MP Rules out Arak Heavy Water Reactor Closure

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior Iranian lawmaker said the Islamic Republic would not succumb to pressure from the westerners who have urged the country to put an end to construction of a heavy-water research reactor in the central city of Arak.

MP Rules out Arak Heavy Water Reactor Closure

Given the fact that the country’s heavy-water research reactor in Arak will come on-stream in the near future, it would not be possible to bring it to a halt, Ahmad Bakhshayesh, member of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission, told the Tasnim News Agency on Saturday.

Arak heavy-water reactor, also known as IR-40, uses natural uranium oxide fuel and is designed to produce radio medicines and also 40 megawatts of power.

The Iranian lawmaker’s comments came as Tehran and the G5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are scheduled to start a fresh round of negotiations over Iran’s peaceful nuclear program in the Swiss city of Geneva on November 20.

The US and some of its allies, Israel in particular, argue that Iran’s nuclear program might include a military component, urging Iran to suspend its nuclear activities, including the closure of Arak heavy-water reactor.

Iran, however, rejects the allegation, arguing that as a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty there is no law against its use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and that numerous inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have invariably failed to find any diversion towards developing a military capability.

On November 11, Iran and the IAEA signed an accord under which Iran agreed to give inspectors access within the next three months to two key nuclear sites: the country’s main uranium mine at Gachin, near Bandar Abbas, and a plant that produces heavy water, a coolant to be used in Iran’s Arak research reactor. 

Meanwhile, the international nuclear watchdog said in a report on November 14 that Iran has sharply slowed down the expansion of its nuclear program over the past three months, providing a potential boost to ongoing nuclear talks with Tehran.

The quarterly report by the IAEA also said that since August no further major components had been added to the heavy-water research reactor in the central city of Arak that is to produce radioisotopes for medical purposes.

The Vienna-based watchdog said the rapid expansion in the Iranian program had come to a near-halt since August, coinciding with the start of the administration of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

The report released Thursday by the UN nuclear agency said that no new-model enrichment centrifuges were installed in Iran’s Natanz facility during the past quarter. It noted that Iran had only added four older-version centrifuges to the facility.

During the same period no major components were installed at the Arak heavy water plant, in central Iran, the report added. No new centrifuges were put into operation at the Fordo uranium enrichment facility, either.

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