Iran’s Arak Heavy Water Reactor is now 85 percent complete, Vice-Speaker of the Parliament Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi Fard said, Iranian Donya-e-eqtesad newspaper reported on Feb. 27.
The MP went on to say that in the past the western powers wanted Iran’s nuclear sites to be closed. Meanwhile today they have accepted their loss negotiating with Iran on the issue.
“Some 19,000 Iranian centrifuges are spinning and the Arak heavy water reactor is 85 percent complete,’ he remarked.
Iran’s heavy water production plant and reactor which remains under construction is located near the city of Arak.
The U.S. and the EU are concerned that the facility could be used to produce plutonium which can be used to fuel a nuclear weapon as an alternative to highly enriched uranium. Iran says its atomic programme is peaceful and the Arak reactor is intended to produce isotopes for cancer patients.
Iran has agreed to suspend the installation activity at the reactor based on the Geneva nuclear deal.
Iran and the P5+1 reached a nuclear agreement on November 24, 2013. Iran has agreed to curb some of its nuclear activities for six months in return for sanctions relief. Iran and the P5+1 group have agreed to implement the agreement starting from Jan. 20.
Under the agreement, six major powers agreed to give Iran access to $4.2 billion in revenue blocked overseas if it carries out the deal which offers sanctions relief in exchange for steps to curb the Iranian nuclear programme.
The incomplete Arak heavy water nuclear reactor was a stumbling block that almost derailed nuclear talks between Iran and other nations last November, when France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius insisted that Iran should agree to halt work there before world powers would consider signing the nuclear deal.
The reactor if operating optimally would produce about nine kilogrammes of plutonium annually or enough for two nuclear weapons each year.
On January 16, the White House released details of implementing the nuclear deal signed by Iran and the world’s six major powers. According to the statement Iran is committed to not fuelling the Arak reactor or install the remaining components.
On Feb. 6, Iranian media outlets quoted head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi as saying Iran can make some design changes to the Arak Heavy Water Reactor in order to produce less plutonium and in this way allay the concerns.
Salehi also went on to say that the plutonium which will be produced in the reactor is not weapons grade plutonium.
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