China, Iran sign first contract for Arak redesign

24 April 2017

China and Iran have signed the first commercial contract for the reconstruction of Iran's Arak heavy water reactor. The core of the reactor was removed as part of an international agreement limiting Iran's nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

China-Iran - April 2017 - 460 (CNNC)
The agreement was signed by China and Iran's ambassadors in Vienna (Image: CNNC)

The contract - signed in Vienna yesterday - is mainly related to the design concept of the transformation of the Arak reactor and some preliminary design-related consulting services. Under the contract, China National Nuclear Corporation will complete the design concept for the renovation of the Arak reactor within the next eight months.

The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran said, "The first primary phase of the reactor's design has been accomplished by Iranian experts over the past year and, through signing this contract, the performed design will be reviewed, confirmed and adjusted to international nuclear safety standards by the Chinese side." It noted that Iranian experts have already started work on the detailed design of the reactor.

According to Iranian news agency IRNA, copies of documents related to the design concept of the Arak reactor, which "are significant for the next phase of the reactor's redesigning", will now be delivered to the Chinese side. It noted that Iran and China have held several rounds of talks over the past year to discuss technical details about the contract. The contract, it said, is the first of a number of "more comprehensive contracts to be inked for completion and re-installation of the Arak reactor in the future".

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed between Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA, plus the European Union) in July 2015, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment activities, eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and limit its stockpile of low enriched uranium over the next 15 years. In addition, Iran also agreed indefinitely not to build any new heavy water reactors or stockpile heavy water, and that the Arak reactor will be redesigned and all used fuel will be shipped out of the country.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News