Heavy Water, Arak Reactor Activities Explained

Heavy Water, Arak Reactor Activities ExplainedHeavy Water, Arak Reactor Activities Explained

Spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Behrouz Kamalvandi explained how the sales of Iran's excess heavy water and the modernization of Arak heavy water reactor adopted under last year's nuclear agreement with major powers are proceeding.

Iran and P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) launched the full implementation of the landmark deal in January.

It gave Iran sanctions relief in return for time-bound curbs on its nuclear program, which include a call on the Islamic Republic to keep its reserves of heavy water below 130 tons by selling, diluting or disposing of the excess amounts, under certain conditions.

Heavy water is a non-radioactive substance used in some types of nuclear reactors.

Iranian officials announced in early June that a controversial deal with the US companies for the sale of 32 tons of heavy water had gone ahead, despite opposition from hawkish US lawmakers.

Russian media also reported about a month ago that Moscow had received the deliveries of 38 tons of Iran's heavy water under a purchase deal.

Kamalvandi told Fars News Agency on Saturday that the Islamic Republic is now in the process of reaching similar agreements with European firms.

"Currently, some European companies want Iran's heavy water and have applied for licenses required for purchasing the product. Their orders are for several tons each," he said.

"Iran has sold all its excess stocks of heavy water for the time being and is taking orders for future deliveries."

  Arak Review Contract Nearly Complete  

Restrictions on Tehran's nuclear work also concern the redesign and reconstruction of the Arak reactor to reduce its output of plutonium, which can be used to build nuclear weapons.  

Tehran has consistently denied the western claim that its nuclear program may have been aimed at developing a nuclear bomb, saying it was for civilian purposes only.

A joint "statement of intent" was released by Tehran, Washington and Beijing on Oct. 18, 2015, to announce cooperation on the Arak modernization project and, shortly afterward, a related document signed by Iran and the six major powers was published.

The document said all the six nations are required to contribute to the project in a working group established after consultations with Iran and co-chaired by the US and China.

China is participating in the design and construction of the modernized reactor and, as the primary liaison between Iran and the working group, is tasked with facilitating communications between them in the course of the project's implementation.

Iran has taken the leadership role as the owner and project manager, and has responsibility for the development of a schedule and overall implementation of the project.

Under the document, it is to develop and share its five-year schedule, including major milestones, as soon as possible with the working group, which will promptly review Iran's schedule and share its views with Iran.

Noting that about "95% of a review contract with China" are complete, Kamalvandi said Tehran hosted a Chinese delegation a few days ago and an Iranian mission will travel to China soon.

"The contract will be finalized when the two or three remaining sticking points are resolved," he said.


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