Iran Official Rules Out Change to Heavy-Water Reactor

Iran's Arak heavy-water reactor complex, shown in 2011. An Iranian government spokesman in a Wednesday article said it is "too late" to potentially convert the unfinished facility to a light-water site, as suggested by some international observers.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Add to Briefcase
Diane Barnes
Feb. 12, 2014, 9:42 a.m.

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 »
LOFTY GOALS
White House Proposes New Tax Plan
16 hours ago
BREAKING

The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

Source:
EMERGING BUDGET FRAMEWORK?
Dems Proposes Obamacare-for-Defense Deal
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."

Source:
WHITE HOUSE BLOCKING DOC REQUEST
Michael Flynn Remains A Russian-Sized Problem
1 days ago
BREAKING

The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.

Source:
SENATE JUDICIARY HEARING
Sally Yates to Testify on May 8
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MESSAGE TO PUTIN
U.S. To Conduct Exercises In Estonia
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The U.S. deployed "F-35 joint strike fighters" to Estonia on Tuesday. The "jets will stay in Estonia for several weeks and will be a part of training flights with U.S. and other NATO air forces." The move comes at a time of high tension between the U.S. and Estonia's neighbor, Russia. The two nations have been at odds over a number of issues recently, most of all being Vladimir Putin's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of Assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people in the midst of a civil war.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login