China Signs Arak Reactor Modernization Deal

Tehran, Beijing Sign Arak Reactor Deal Tehran, Beijing Sign Arak Reactor Deal

Iran and China have signed a long-awaited deal on Sunday to go ahead with the joint implementation of the Arak Modernization Project in keeping with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Under the Arak deal, the Chinese side is responsible for reviewing and certifying the new design submitted by Iranian experts for the Arak heavy water reactor, ISNA reported.

China was a member of a group of six powers that negotiated the historic nuclear pact with Iran, which took effect in Jan. 2016 to ease international sanctions against temporary curbs on Tehran's nuclear work.

The deal stipulated, among other things, the redesign and reconstruction of the Arak heavy water reactor to reduce its output of plutonium, a rare substance that can be used to produce nuclear warheads.

Tehran has consistently denied having ever considered developing a nuclear bomb and insists that the civilian nature of its nuclear program has been verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency on several occasions.

Tehran, Beijing and Washington, another party to the landmark nuclear accord, released a joint "statement of intent" on Oct. 18, 2015, to announce cooperation on the Arak project and soon signed a related document.

The document committed the six nations, which also included Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany, to contribute to the project through 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 will liaise between the working group and Iran in the course of the project's implementation.

Iranian officials, however, have frequently expressed frustration with the slow progress in the project's implementation, blaming it on frequent delays by the Chinese side.

The spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said last week that the Arak contract with China would accommodate Iran's demands, including over the price that appeared to be a major sticking point during the yearlong negotiations.

"The new price is significantly lower than what the Chinese side originally demanded and [the contract] takes into account all our technical and financial considerations," Behrouz Kamalvandi said.


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