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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Removes Core of Arak Heavy Water Reactor as Part of Nuclear Accord

by Edward Yeranian January 14, 2016

Iran's Atomic Energy Agency says it has removed the core of its heavy water reactor in the southern town of Arak, apparently completing the final condition of a nuclear deal with Western powers.

Iranian state TV reported that Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by phone Thursday the removal of the core of the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor is complete. If not disabled the plant could have produced plutonium, a possible element in setting off a nuclear reaction.

Under the nuclear deal with Western powers reached in July, Iran has already completed shipping its supply of enriched uranium to Russia, limited the number of centrifuges at its Fordo nuclear enrichment plant, and submitted to the inspection of its Parchin military testing site.

Iran Atomic Energy Agency Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told state TV International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors will visit the plant Thursday to verify the core's removal.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told journalists the Arak nuclear reactor is due to be redesigned by foreign experts to be used for research and production of medical isotopes.

The Fars News Agency quoted Araqchi as saying that the "International Atomic Energy Agency will issue its final report Friday, confirming that Iran has met its commitments under the July nuclear accord" with the P5+1 group of countries.

Persian Gulf analyst and former Iranian diplomat Mehrdad Khonsari tells VOA the Iranian government appears eager to complete the final steps of the nuclear accord.

"I think that the Iranian government is adamant about the completing the commitment it has made, because it is anxious that the sanctions are removed and that implementation day is not impeded by any outstanding matter," he said.

Iran is eager to see part of its $100 billion in frozen assets released by the United States and other world powers, due to take place once the IAEA verifies it has met its obligations under the nuclear deal.

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