Iran starts redesigning of Arak heavy water reactor (UPDATE)
Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 27
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said the country has started redesigning of the core of Arak heavy water reactor (IR-40), located in central Arak City.
"The Iranian experts are reviewing the equipment of the reactor to prevent nuclear sabotage, and are redesigning the core of the reactor as well," Salehi said, Iran's ISNA news agency reported Aug. 27.
While remarking Iran's previous proposal for making changes in the reactor to reduce western concerns, Salehi said that his organization has informed the officials of Iran's foreign ministry about the redesign details.
"We held a meeting in the foreign ministry and informed them about the technical details, and the negotiating team will bring it up in the nuclear talks with the P5+1 group," he explained.
The U.S. and the EU are concerned that the heavy water reactor could be used to produce plutonium, which can be used to fuel a nuclear weapon as an alternative to highly enriched uranium.
The Arak heavy water reactor if operating optimally would produce about nine kilograms of plutonium annually or enough for about two nuclear weapons each year.
Iran says that weapons-grade plutonium is not produced by the Arak reactor.
The country has agreed to suspend the installation activity at the reactor based on the Geneva nuclear deal.
Early in February Salehi said that Iran can make some design changes to the IR-40 to produce less plutonium in the reactor and in this way allay the worries and mitigate the concerns.
Iran and the P5+1(five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) agreed to extend their nuclear negotiations until Nov. 24 after failing to meet the July 20 deadline to reach a deal on curbing the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for ending sanctions.