Friday , 8 December 2023

Iran forges deal with China to redesign Arak reactor

PayvandNews – Iran has hashed out price differences with China to receive counselling on redesigning its only heavy water nuclear reactor, signing a deal on the project with the Chinese side, Iranian Foreign Ministry has said in a written briefing to parliament.

Arak heavy-water reactor

“The contract to receive counselling on the redesign was negotiated and signed in Beijing on April 13,” read part of the report, the fifth parliamentary briefing on the 2015 international nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers.

The deal went into effect on January 16, 2016, resulting in the lifting of economic sanctions against Tehran in reward for it rolling back its nuclear program.

The bargain with China, the report said, has taken into account all “concerns of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran”, saying nothing of the nature of the concerns.

Iranian experts have already come up with a conceptual redesign of the reactor and now fuel details are being discussed with the Chinese, it further explained.

The redesign mechanism was agreed upon in a separate document on Nov. 13, 17 and 18 by the foreign ministers of Iran and the great powers.

Earlier in January, Iran protested that the Chinese side was demanding too much for redesigning the nuclear reactor, what it said was much beyond “international standards.”

The very political nature of the issue had whetted the appetite of the Chinese for a more lucrative deal, the Iranian side speculated.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s atomic organization, said: “The agreed-upon price is quite different from the initial one proposed by the Chinese side.”

The fate of the 40-megawatt Arak reactor was a key sticking point in nearly two years of negotiations that led to the nuclear agreement.

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

The redesigned reactor also will not produce weapon grade plutonium.

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.

Heavy-water reactors like Arak, fuelled by natural uranium, are seen as especially suitable for yielding plutonium, one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can
produce a nuclear explosion.

Iran says it needs to refine uranium to fuel a planned network of nuclear power plants.

Under the nuclear accord, Tehran agreed to change the Arak reactor core to one sized for low-enriched uranium fuel.

Iran removed the core of the reactor and filled it with cement as required under the deal days before it took force.