News / Middle East

US Experts: Modify Iran's Arak Plant to Reduce Bomb Threat

FILE - A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 kilometers southwest of Tehran, Iran.
FILE - A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 kilometers southwest of Tehran, Iran.
Reuters
Changes to the design of Iran's planned Arak research reactor could drastically reduce its output of potential nuclear weapon material, U.S. experts said in a proposal.

How to deal with Arak is one of several issues that must be tackled in negotiations between Iran and six global powers that got under way in February with the aim of reaching a long-term deal on the decade-old nuclear dispute by late July.

Princeton University academics said annual production of plutonium could be cut to less than a kilogram - well below the roughly eight kilograms needed for an atomic bomb - if Iran altered the way the plant is fueled, and if it lowered its power capacity.

“These redesigns would not reduce the usefulness of the reactor for making radioisotopes and conducting research,” wrote Ali Ahmad, Frank von Hippel, Alexander Glaser and Zia Mian - members of Princeton's Program on Science and Global Security.

“This approach would meet Iran's needs and would address the concerns of the international community,” said their article, due to be published on Wednesday by the online journal of the Arms Control Association, a U.S. research and advocacy group.

Iran denies Western allegations that it is seeking the capability to make nuclear bombs, saying its program is aimed at generating electricity and carrying out peaceful research.

Experts from Iran and the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and China are due to meet in Vienna for three days from Thursday to be followed by a third round of political-level talks next week.

Western powers fear Arak could provide a supply of plutonium - one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can trigger a nuclear explosion - once operational.

The Islamic Republic has said its 40-megawatt, heavy-water reactor is intended to produce isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments. Iran agreed to halt installation work at Arak under an interim deal reached with the powers last year.

Their positions seem far apart. Iran has ruled out shutting down any nuclear site, including Arak, which has been under construction for years. The United States says it sees no need for Arak as part of a civilian nuclear program.

Win-win solution for Arak?

However, the head of Iran's atomic energy organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, in February signaled some flexibility, saying it was prepared to modify Arak to help allay any concerns.

Heavy-water reactors, fueled by natural uranium, are seen as especially suitable for yielding plutonium. To do so, however, a nuclear reprocessing plant would also be needed to extract the plutonium. Iran is not known to have any such plant.

If operating optimally, Arak could produce about nine kg of plutonium annually, the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security says.

Any long-term deal must lower that amount, experts say.

The Princeton University experts said that changing Arak's fueling and operating power would make it less of a proliferation concern, even if it were to remain a heavy water-moderated reactor.

“The conversion steps described above are technically feasible,” they said in the article titled “A Win-Win Solution for Iran's Arak Reactor.”

Robert Einhorn, a former U.S. State Department official on Iran, said that at a minimum, using enriched uranium fuel and reducing the power level would be required for Arak. He said preferably it also would be converted to a light-water reactor, however, which is a more extensive reconfiguration step that Iran may resist.

Arak was still a less immediate concern than Iran's existing uranium enrichment program, which gives it the ability to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb in a couple of months, Einhorn said in a new report.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Frankie from: U.S
April 03, 2014 11:09 PM
Funny stuff you guys. Bomb the place? And who should do this again?? Right Mr. Mobarak. Try again you jerk.


by: WorldView from: USA
April 02, 2014 8:03 PM
The head of Iran's atomic energy organization Salehi already proposed changes to the Arak reactor design several months ago. The author(s) of this article seem not to be aware of this fact. All the ballyhoo about Arak is nonsense. Even a light-water reactor can produce plutonium.

Marwan from Egypt: When you live in a civilized country where the army doesn't massacre thousands in the streets, then you can talk about other countries. Right now, you live in a backward dump.


by: Marwan from: Egypt
April 02, 2014 3:48 PM
modify it..??? hey, Idiot, you should bomb the damned thing..!!! reduce it to a pile of dirt. or you will have no peace... not in the Middle East nor at your home. it seems that the Americans have not yet understood the depravity of the Iranians.

In Response

by: Anonymous
April 03, 2014 3:54 PM
Is this Mawan Stein Berger trying to sound like an egyptian?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid