By Nigar Abbasova
Russia, one of the strategic partners of the Islamic Republic of Iran, may assist the country with redesigning and reconstruction of its Arak nuclear reactor.
Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan said Russia is determined to honor its commitments regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, also known as the nuclear deal), mentioning that preparatory steps to redesign the Arak reactor are being taken.
The ambassador added that Russian experts have visited Iran to contribute to the process of redesigning the reactor.
The Arak reactor was one of the toughest sticking points in Iran's long-standing nuclear negotiations.
The U.S. and the EU were concerned that the heavy water reactor could have been used to produce plutonium, which in turn might fuel a nuclear weapon as an alternative to highly enriched uranium.
The Arak heavy water reactor if operating optimally would have produced about nine kilograms of plutonium annually or enough for about two nuclear weapons each year.
Iran, however, said that weapons-grade plutonium was not produced by the Arak reactor.
Under the JCPOA achieved between Iran and P5+1 (the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) and implemented in January 2016, Iran removed the Arak reactor’s core, while a new reactor with minimum plutonium production capacity is expected to be installed at the site.
The removal of the core was one of the final steps required by the deal. Moreover, Iran sold the heavy water produced in Arak during the past years to foreign countries, including the US.
The redesigned and rebuilt Arak reactor will not produce weapons-grade plutonium. Research reactors can be used for a number of legitimate civilian goals, including the production of medical isotopes.
Nigar Abbasova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @nigyar_abbasova
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