China Criticized for Arak Project Delays

China Criticized for Arak Project Delays China Criticized for Arak Project Delays

A member of a parliamentary committee on the nuclear program denounced China for stalling the joint implementation of the Arak reactor modernization project.

China and the US, along with four other major powers, namely France, Britain, Russia and Germany, negotiated a historic nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 that took effect in Jan. 2016 to place temporary curbs on Tehran's nuclear work in return for relief from sanctions.

Among the restrictions is a call to redesign and reconstruct the Arak heavy water reactor to reduce its output of plutonium, which can be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Tehran has consistently denied the claim its nuclear program was geared to develop a nuclear bomb and its civilian nature has been verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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 all the parties was published. The document said all the six nations are required to contribute to the project through the 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 the working group and Iran, facilitates communications in the course of the project's implementation.

  Lack of Commitment 

Iranian officials, however, have expressed frustration with the frequent delays in the project and have questioned the commitment of some signatories.

"The International Atomic Energy Agency has failed to demonstrate full commitment to the JCPOA and has referred us to Chins that has constantly made excuses to shun its obligations," the lawmaker, Mojtaba Zolnour, also told ICANA on Tuesday. He was using the official title of the pact, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which has tasked IAEA with monitoring Iran's compliance. Tehran received the final batch of a shipment of 149 tons of natural uranium on Feb. 7.

Announcing the news a day earlier, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said, "Concurrent with the execution of JCPOA and over the last year, we have imported around 210 tons of uranium."

Salehi noted that the shipment would bring the amount of "yellow cake" imported after the landmark nuclear deal to 359 tons, which increases Iran's stockpile by 60% compared with pre-JCPOA levels.

In accordance with the nuclear accord, Iran can sell its enriched uranium and buy natural uranium or yellow cake in return.

Zolnour noted that the yellow cake cargo was imported under a purchase deal "not in exchange for raw or enriched uranium."

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