Iran to modernise Arak heavy water nuclear reactor outside JCPOA – Deputy FM

Sputnik – Iran is going to modernise its heavy water reactor in Arak outside the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), given the current situation around the deal, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said in an interview with Sputnik.

According to the deputy foreign minister, in order to modernise a heavy water reactor near the city of Arak in accordance with the nuclear deal, Tehran joined a working group in the JCPOA, chaired by China and the United Kingdom.

“Unfortunately, because of the US pressure and sanctions, this project has not moved forward very well. So, we have told the remaining [JCPOA] participants that we will, after 60 days from 8 May, go back to the previous project. We don’t count on JCPOA and JCPOA participants on the Arak project anymore. We will do it by ourselves,” Araghchi said.

The official stressed that Iran would use “previous” technologies since it was not familiar with new ones.

“The new Arak heavy water [reactor] is in fact on initial stages. We are still working on the design of the new reactor. As I have said, the job is very slow, but we cannot wait anymore. As the second step, after 60 days from 8 May, we will end our cooperation with JCPOA participants on Arak heavy water [reactor] project”, Araghchi added.

The statement comes after earlier this May Tehran officially halted some of the nuclear deal’s commitments, including obligations on heavy water, urging remaining signatories of the nuclear deal to fulfil their obligations despite the US restrictions.
The move was taken precisely one year after US President Donald Trump announced that Washington was leaving the JCPOA and reinstating sanctions against Iran. However, in November 2018 the US allowed Iran to continue work on several nonproliferation projects in Iran, including Arak.

According to the JCPOA, Tehran vowed not to produce weapons-grade plutonium at its Arak facility — which it is obliged to reconfigure — and not to build new heavy-water reactors for 15 years to curb its nuclear program. Tehran is also committed to keeping its stock of heavy water, used to cool the Arak nuclear reactor, at no more than 130 metric tons.