Iran: China acting opportunistically, asking too much for reactor redesign

Tehran Times- An official with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran on Thursday implicitly accused Beijing of fishing in troubled waters by demanding too high a price for redesigning the Arak nuclear reactor. 

“Our understanding is that the price proposed by the Chinese is high as compared to international standards,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the organization.

The very political nature of the issue has whet appetite of the Chinese for a more lucrative deal, the official speculated.

“Perhaps, the Chinese side thinks the issue is not utterly economic and has a political dimension, too.”

Kamalvandi said the two sides have been in talks over the issue to reach a consensus, and the Chinese side has shown some flexibility though “still insufficient.”

Having said that, the price gap cannot delay the redesigning project expected to take one year, as much of the work is done by Iranian technicians, Kamalvandi added.

The Chinese side will mainly review the redesigning and all costs will be calculated on the basis of a document, he further explained. “We are working until the last moment to reduce the price.”

The fate of the Arak heavy water reactor was a key sticking point in nearly two years of negotiations between Iran and six world powers that led to the July 2015 nuclear agreement.

Under the document, the reactor will be redesigned and rebuilt in the form of an international partnership so as to allow for “peaceful nuclear research” and “radioisotope production for medical and industrial purposes.”

The redesigned reactor also will not produce weapon grade plutonium.

The redesigning process was agreed upon in a separate document on Nov. 13, 17 and 18 by the foreign ministers of Iran and the P5+1.

Iran will act as project manager, according to the document, while China “will participate in the redesign and the construction of the modernized reactor” and the United States “will provide technical support and review of the modernized reactor design”.

France, the United Kingdom and Germany will participate in design review and Russia will provide consultative services.

AK/PA

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