Iran gives details of sabotage at IR-40 nuclear site

Iran Materials 17 March 2014 14:30 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 17

By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

The deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation in charge of safety and security, Asghar Zarean has unveiled some details about sabotage at the country's Arak nuclear site, Iran's Tabnak news portal reported on March 17.

Several operations were performed mechanically at some pumps of the Arak IR-40 site's second circuit to disrupt the plant's process, Zarean said.

IR-40 is a 40 megawatt heavy water reactor which is being constructed in the Iranian central city of Arak. Iran decided to build the heavy water reactor in the mid-1990s. Arak IR-40 is designed to run on uranium oxide fuel produced at the Esfahan conversion and fuel fabrication facilities.

Zarean went on to say that Iran thwarted the sabotage attempt. He also added that "foreigners were responsible for the sabotage."

"We buy some equipment from foreigners by contractors," Zarean noted, adding that the contractor, who imported the pumps was not aware of the sabotage.

He also accused foreign intelligence services of attempts towards slowing Iran's nuclear program.

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. Iran says its atomic program is peaceful and the reactor is intended to produce isotopes for cancer patients.

Iran has agreed to suspend the installation activity at the reactor based on the Geneva nuclear deal.

Under the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group (five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) which took effect on Jan 20, the six major powers agreed to give Iran access to its $4.2 billion in revenues blocked overseas if the country fulfills the deal's terms which offer sanctions relief in exchange for steps on curbing the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran and P5+1 intend to continue their talks to reach a final agreement to fully resolve the decade-old dispute over the Islamic Republic's nuclear energy program.

The Arak heavy water reactor if operating optimally would produce about nine kilograms of plutonium annually or enough for two nuclear weapons each year.

On Jan. 16, the White House released details of implementing the nuclear deal signed by Iran and the world's six major powers. According to the statement Iran is committed to not fuelling the Arak reactor or to install the remaining components.

On Feb. 6, Iranian media outlets quoted head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi as saying Iran can make some design changes to the Arak heavy water reactor in order to produce less plutonium and in this way allay the concerns.

Salehi also went on to say that the plutonium which will be produced in the reactor is not weapons grade plutonium.

Edited by C.N.