A Win-Win Solution on the Arak Reactor?
Princeton University researchers outline technical options to resolve concerns about Iran's controversial heavy water reactor project in Arms Control Today.
For Immediate Release: April 11, 2014
Media Contacts: Frank von Hippel, Princeton University, 609-258-4696; Zia Mian, Princeton University, 609-258-5468,
(Washington, D.C.)--Following the latest round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers on a resolution over concerns about Iran's nuclear program, Ali Akhbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Iran had offered a "scientific and logical proposal to clear up any ambiguities" over the Arak heavy water reactor.
"In our plan, we explained that we would redesign the heart of the Arak reactor, so that its production of plutonium will decrease drastically," Salehi told the website of Iran's English-language state television Press TV, on April 11 according to Reuters.
In the April issue of Arms Control Today, a team of experts from Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security explain the technical options for modifying the design of Iran's heavy water reactor at Arak that "could provide greater assurance that the reactor could not be used to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon, while maintaining the reactor's performance in peaceful applications."
As currently designed, the Arak reactor is particularly well suited to produce plutonium. The reactor has been under construction for years and is now one of the key issues at the center of the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States).
As part of the first phase agreement reached by the P5+1 and Iran last November, Iran agreed to halt construction on the Arak reactor during the six month time period of that deal, but maintains that it must be able to operate the reactor as part of the final deal in order to produce medical isotopes.
In their article, "A Win-Win Solution for Iran's Arak Reactor," the Princeton research team of Frank von Hippel, Ali Ahmad, Alexander Glaser, and Zia Mian propose options changing the fueling and operating power of the Arak reactor to make it less of a proliferation concern.
"They provide a sound basis for resolving one of the key points of contention in the talks on Iran's program," they conclude.
Negotiators from the P5+1 states and Iran will meet for a fourth round of talks in Vienna on May 13.
Arms Control Today is the monthly journal published by the Arms Control Association, an independent nongovernmental organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.