An Iranian official on Wednesday set aside the idea of potentially altering a nuclear reactor that other nations fear could produce atomic-bomb fuel.
Iran cannot convert its Arak heavy-water reactor to a light-water facility, Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran’s delegation to the United Nations, wrote in a Wednesday commentary published by the London Guardian.
Such a change would reduce the unfinished site’s capacity to produce weapon-usable plutonium once activated, addressing a major concern shared by world powers as they seek a deal with Iran aimed at preventing its atomic assets from supporting any nuclear-arms production. But the diplomatic official said this kind of modification would prove infeasible.
“It is now too late to change [the Arak reactor] into a light-water prototype, as some have suggested in the West,” Babaei wrote. “This ‘generous’ offer should have been made much earlier.”
His assertion came a week after Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, reportedly expressed openness to modifying the Arak site “to produce less plutonium.”
On Tuesday, a former U.S. national security staffer said shutting down or significantly altering the Arak reactor would be one of the Obama administration’s “key considerations” in seeking a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. The Persian Gulf power, which insists the site is strictly for medical use, is set on Feb. 18 to begin talks on the potential deal with China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“If Iran genuinely intends Arak to be a facility that produces medical isotopes only, it should be able to agree to such modifications without significant fuss,” Jofi Joseph, a former White House nonproliferation official, wrote in a Tuesday analysis for Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
In Senate testimony last week, the Obama administration’s senior Iran negotiator dismissed Tehran’s rationale for building the heavy-water facility.
“We do not believe there is any reason for a heavy-water reactor at all in a civil nuclear program of the type that Iran is interested in,” Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. She did not explicitly say in testimony whether the United States would demand the facility’s closure or conversion.
What We're Following See More »
Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.