|Iran ready to redesign Arak reactor||
TEHRAN – Iran’s nuclear chief has said that Tehran is ready to redesign the planned Arak heavy-water reactor to help remove a major sticking point in nuclear talks with the major powers.
“We should leave no excuses for the Westerners and act smartly,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Ali Akbar Salehi told the Iranian television on Thursday.
Salehi said that Iran has a proposal to redesign the heart of the Arak reactor in order to significantly reduce plutonium production at the facility.
The Arak reactor is planned to gradually replace the Tehran research reactor, which produces radioisotopes for cancer treatment.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) held their last round of talks in Vienna on Tuesday and Wednesday. They agreed to meet again on May 13 in Vienna to work on a final solution to the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The Arak reactor has become a major issue in negotiations between Iran and the major powers, which claim the reactor is a potential source of plutonium for building nuclear bombs.
Russia’s chief negotiator said after the most recent round of nuclear talks that progress had been achieved on Arak. “The possibility of a compromise on this issue has grown,” Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.
If operating optimally, Arak could produce about nine kilograms of plutonium annually, Reuters quoted the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security as saying.
Last week, Princeton University experts said that annual plutonium production could be cut to less than a kilogram - well below the roughly 8 kilograms needed for an atomic bomb - if Iran altered the way Arak is fuelled and lowered its power capacity.
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