Iran Atomic Energy Organisation head: Arak heavy water reactor to be redesigned

Nuclear Program Materials 8 March 2015 04:17 (UTC +04:00)

Iran's heavy water reactor at its nuclear facility in Arak will be redesigned, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by the IRNA news agencyю

Arak reactor will remain a heavy water facility with alterations in its design Salehi said, according to TASS.

Focusing on the last round of Iran-western Sextet nuclear talks, he said that with the alterations in Arak heavy water reactor, the Western countries' concerns about it would be removed.

"That was one of the challenging points in the [last round] of negotiations," Salehi said. But thanks to "proposed technical alteration by the Islamic Republic of Iran the other side was convinced that the matter is resolved," he added. Salehi also said that Iran was ready to ease the concerns of the other side within a logical framework, the international regulations and agreements, and the nuclear treaties and had thus far achieved very good results.

The AEOI head told reporters previously that the latest rounds of the negotiations between Iran and P+5 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) allowed to put an end to "stalemate around a number of technical issues."

Salehi said that the last two rounds of negotiations in Geneva and Montreux, in which he participated, along with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, have been productive.

Referring to recent round of talks in Montreux, Switzerland, he said technical talks had been blocked and he was assigned to join nuclear talks to give more explanations in details, IRNA reported. "Fortunately, the last two rounds of talks were fruitful and the two sides took major strides to remove misunderstanding," he said. It is not possible to reveal details of recent nuclear talks, he said.

The two sides discussed uranium enrichment at Arak research centre, research and development issues pertaining to Fordow nuclear site along with a number of minor issues, he said. "In general, talks were balanced and I believe that due to scientific knowledge and experience in the field, my presence was very effective to help remove dead-end about technical issues of the Iranian nuclear program," Salehi said.

The previous round of talks between Iran and the world's six major powers were held in Geneva on February 23-24, while the next round of negotiations is scheduled on March 15-20.

The sides have agreed that the principal decision on the sensitive nuclear dossier should be reached by late March 2015 and by the end of June the key agreements are to be confirmed in a final deal.

In late February, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that "confidence is growing that an agreement on Iran's nuclear dossier will be reached by the fixed deadline of June 30."

The diplomat said it was important to restore the confidence in "a reliable and verified way" that Iran's nuclear program is of an absolutely peaceful character. This should be done without backtracking on "basic regimes in the sphere of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

"It is most important that in the framework of this process we get a boost in developing our bilateral ties with Iran and the opportunities to expand our cooperation with the country in the nuclear energy sphere and other elements of the negotiation process which have a direct relation to us," Ryabkov said.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a televised interview on Wednesday that Tehran was close to an agreement on the nuclear programme although some issues related to it still need to be negotiated.

"Once we reach that understanding, once this hysteria is out, once this fear mongering is out, then we can have a deal, and a deal that is not going to hurt anybody," he told NBC News. "We don't want to build nuclear weapons, we don't believe nuclear weapons bring security to anybody, certainly not to us," Zarif said.

In November 2014, the Sextet and Iran agreed that the final version of the agreement will be ready by June 30, 2015. At the same time, the sides plan to coordinate the political part of the agreement by the end of this month.