Iran deal implementation day ‘very, very soon’

WASHINGTON — Iran has removed the core of its Arak plutonium reactor and filled it with cement, taking one of the final steps that — pending verification by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors — will make way for implementation day of the landmark Iran nuclear deal over the weekend, Iranian officials said.

“The core vessel of the Arak reactor has been removed,” IAEA spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said Jan. 14.

IAEA “inspectors will be in Arak this evening, and they will verify Iran’s measures and their report will be sent to the IAEA,” Kamalvandi said. “We are in the final phases, and the job will be done today or tomorrow and we will enter into an important era.”

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a Jan. 12 phone call with US Secretary of State John Kerry, “reported to me that the calandria of the plutonium nuclear reactor is now out,” Kerry said in a speech at the National Defense University on Jan. 13. “And in the next hours it will be filled with concrete and destroyed. All of their enriched material has been put on a ship and taken out and gone to Russia for processing.”

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This article was written by Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor on Jan. 14, 2016. Laura Rozen reports on foreign policy from Washington, DC, for Al-Monitor’s Back Channel. She has written for Yahoo! News, Politico and Foreign Policy.