Iranian Envoy Sees New Momentum on Arak Reactor Dispute

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Global Security Newswire Staff
April 8, 2014, 7:51 a.m.

A seni­or Ir­a­ni­an en­voy has hin­ted at pro­gress in resolv­ing a dis­pute over a heavy-wa­ter re­act­or cap­able of gen­er­at­ing plutoni­um, the Wall Street Journ­al re­ports.

Ir­a­ni­an Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Majid Ravan­chi said Ir­an is re­view­ing “ideas” presen­ted by six oth­er coun­tries for resolv­ing fears that the Arak site could pro­duce the bomb-us­able sub­stance upon ac­tiv­a­tion, the news­pa­per said on Monday, be­fore new high-level talks began. Tehran denies har­bor­ing any nuc­le­ar-weapon am­bi­tions, but has joined dis­cus­sions on po­ten­tially re­strict­ing its arms-rel­ev­ant atom­ic activ­it­ies in ex­change for sanc­tions re­lief.

“We know each oth­er’s po­s­i­tions on Arak very well,” the dip­lo­mat said, re­fer­ring to ne­go­ti­at­ors from Ir­an and coun­ter­parts from China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia, the United King­dom and the United States. The sides are try­ing to ham­mer out a long-term suc­cessor to an in­ter­im nuc­le­ar ac­cord reached late last year.

Tehran, Ravan­chi said, is “ready to ad­dress le­git­im­ate con­cerns about the pos­sible pro­lif­er­a­tion that might arise with re­gard to Arak.”

A spokes­man for a key dis­cus­sion co­ordin­at­or con­firmed that the heavy-wa­ter fa­cil­ity is a cent­ral fo­cus of a two-day mul­ti­lat­er­al meet­ing that began on Tues­day, Bloomberg re­por­ted.

“We’re in­volved in very de­tailed and sub­stan­tial ne­go­ti­ations,” said Mi­chael Mann, a spokes­man for European Uni­on For­eign Policy chief Cath­er­ine Ashton. Ashton joined Ir­a­ni­an For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­hammad Javad Za­rif to open this week’s gath­er­ing in Vi­enna, but the of­fi­cials later turned over lead­er­ship of the talks to lower-rank­ing of­fi­cials, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

A second high-level Ir­a­ni­an dip­lo­mat said the per­cep­tion of Arak “as an easy and speedy way to de­vel­op a nuc­le­ar bomb raises con­cerns which we have agreed to ad­dress,” ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg.

Still, “this doesn’t mean it will be closed or con­ver­ted to an­oth­er fa­cil­ity,” Ir­a­ni­an Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Ab­bas Araq­chi said last week.

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