Chinese, British work on Arak heavy water facility has ‘picked up pace’: Iran’s atomic energy chief

Press TV – Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi says work on the reconstruction of the Arak heavy water reactor — a project jointly undertaken by China, Britain and Iran — has “picked up pace” following a pause.

“The joint committee tasked with redesigning the Arak Heavy Water Reactor Facility — comprised of Iran, China and Britain — is performing its job well,” said Salehi, Iran’s parliamentary news agency ICANA reported on Friday.

“We are consequently satisfied with the project’s progress because the reactor’s reconstruction has picked up pace after being delayed for several months,” he added.

The 40-megawatt Arak reactor is intended to produce isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments.

Under a multilateral deal initially inked between Iran and six world powers —including the US, China and Britain — in 2015, Iran agreed to redesign the Arak research reactor to cut its potential output of plutonium.

Washington and Beijing had initially formed a working group to assist Iran in redesigning the Arak facility.

However, Britain later replaced the US, which abruptly abandoned the deal — officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — in 2018.

The nuclear chief further highlighted the importance of nuclear technology for the country’s energy sector, saying the Bushehr nuclear power plant is already generating an average of 2.7 percent of Iran’s electricity needs.

That figure, he added, would increase following the inauguration of Bushehr’s second and third nuclear power plants, which are slated to become operational in the next six and eight years, respectively.

‘US isolation’

Salehi further pointed to a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA)’s Board of Governors, which had been held at the request of the US earlier this month, saying the outcome of the meeting demonstrated Washington’s isolation.

During that meeting, Washington made an attempt in vain to rally the body behind its anti-Iran claims a few days after Tehran increased its uranium enrichment level beyond the limits set by the JCPOA as part of its legal reciprocal measures in the aftermath of the US’s exit from the agreement and the remaining signatories’ failure to live up to their end of the bargain.

“This is the first time that a member state of the Board of Governors calls for a session only to get isolated afterwards due to its baseless claims,” he said.

On July 10, the day of the Board of Governors session, Trump had threatened that Washington would push for a “substantial” increase in sanctions against Iran soon, accusing Tehran of secretly enriching uranium without providing any evidence.