Negotiator: Iran to Ease Concerns over Arak Reactor

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator said the country will not give up Arak heavy water research reactor but will try to ease concerns of the international community over the issue.

Negotiator: Iran to Ease Concerns over Arak Reactor

Iran and world powers are to begin new rounds of nuclear talks in Geneva later in February. This comes after an interim agreement was reached in November to cap Tehran’s nuclear program in return for easing sanctions by the West.

President Hassan Rouhani says his country is ready for final nuclear talks to reach a comprehensive deal.

In an exclusive interview with CCTV, Iran’s Chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said that Iran will not give up the Arak reactor, but it will try to ease any concerns the international community may have.

"US Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a speech recently in Davos, in which he mentioned Arak. Do you think Iran will accept significant downgrade the Arak reactor in the future?" Wang Jinyan, the CCTV reporter said.

At the same time, we recognize that there are some proliferation concerns about a heavy-water reactor. What we can do it trying to reduce those concerns, bring them to hopefully zero

"Arak reactor is the result of almost three decades of hard scientific works by Iranian scientists alone. It’s a big scientific achievement. There is no single reason why we should give it up. At the same time, we recognize that there are some proliferation concerns about a heavy-water reactor. What we can do it trying to reduce those concerns, bring them to hopefully zero,” he said

“There are ways and means to reduce and remove hopefully the proliferation risks attached to this reactor. As I said there is no single reason why we should give it up, something that is a national pride, something that is a big scientific research. But we are ready to work on the proliferation concerns and try to remove them using creative technology and methods." Abbas Araqchi added.

Is shutting down and dismantling of nuclear facilities the red-line for your government, asked the CCTV reporter.

"Of course it is a red-line. Why should we dismantle anything? We are going to negotiate many things. As I said if they would find reasonable and logical concerns, we would try to address those concerns. We are ready to address, remove and take care of all real concerns. That is the principle for us. We don’t think there is need for any dismantling and any places to be shut down. We can do that by keeping everything in place," Abbas Araqchi said.

What do you think are the main obstacles and complications in the future talks? CCTV’s Wang Jinyan asked.

There are different concerns, and different elements of our peaceful nuclear program. As I said the limit on enrichment is a very difficult question, we need to resolve concerns on Arak heavy water reactor that is something important, to decide on the question of enhancing monitoring and additional protocol, and to see how the sanctions are going to be lifted, he said.

“These are very important questions. As a person who has been engaged in this business in the past several years, I know it will be very difficult to come to a compromise on all of them. All of us have our own red-lines. How to deal with these red-lines and how to compromise between red-lines of both sides should be a difficult job as I mentioned. But I’m not pessimistic, I’m not too optimistic either. I’m trying to be realistic. I think a solution is achievable. But it needs a lot of efforts, good will and real determination. And this is something that we will be able to discuss when we start this process." Abbas Araqchi said.

So what in your idea are these comprehensive and long-term negotiations about, and how does this deal look like? Wang Jinyan said.

"It should take us to a destination, to a target where Iran can enjoy its nuclear rights according to the NPT, for having a peaceful nuclear program, including enrichment, and where all sanctions are lifted, and where confidences are built that there is no nuclear weapons involved in this program. We are confident that we do not have such a program. We don’t want nuclear weapons. We consider them as inhumane, and even more importantly un-Islamic. We consider them as against our Islamic teachings and we have a very clear religious decree by our supreme leader, who is the highest religious, political and constitutional authority in Iran. He has very explicitly and clearly said that production, stockpiling and usage of all kinds of weapons of mass-destruction are totally forbidden in Islamic teachings," Araqchi said.

You are going to negotiate the final deal. So what are your expectations? The reporter asked.

"I expect a series of very serious challenging negotiations among us. We are totally determined to move forward to achieve a balanced and just comprehensive solution. And we hope that the other side can come with the same spirit and same determination to resolve this unnecessary crisis," he said.

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