China Not to Blame for Arak Reactor Project Delay

China Not to Blame for Arak Reactor Project Delay

A lawmaker sought to absolve Iran’s partner China of the blame for the delay in the implementation of the Arak reactor’s 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 swap relief from international sanctions for temporary constraints on Tehran’s nuclear work.
The deal included a call for the redesign and reconstruction of the Arak heavy water reactor to reduce its output of plutonium, which can be used to develop nuclear warheads.
Tehran has consistently denied the claim its nuclear program might have been 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 project and shortly afterward, a related document signed by all the parties was published.
The document said 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.
Iranian officials, however, have expressed frustration with the slow progress on the project’s implementation, blaming it on frequent delays by the Chinese side.
Addressing those grievances, Morteza Saffari said in a talk with ICANA on Monday that it would be unrealistic to expect the Arak reactor project to “become operational” only one year after the start of the deal’s implementation.
“Many believe that China’s lack of seriousness is the culprit behind the sluggish pace of the Arak project. The Chinese should not be blamed because it is a time-consuming task,” he said.

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