AFP’s report on the possible decommissioning of the Arak heavy-water reactor in Iran is somewhat confusing, because it begins by factually stating that Iran has “removed the core of its Arak heavy water reactor and filled part of it with cement,” quoting a spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization to that effect.
But then later in the piece, it is said that a “top official” denied reports that the reactor core had been removed. Instead, this official said Tehran was “still working on a deal to redesign the reactor.”
However, Reuters reports that the U.S. State Department said on Thursday that Iran did pour concrete into the reactor core, in a move “critical to the implementation of the nuclear agreement Tehran reached with major powers.”
According to the BBC, Iran’s Fars news agency is also reporting that the reactor core has been removed.
“The fate of the reactor was one of the toughest sticking points in Iran’s long nuclear negotiations last year,” the BBC notes. “Under the terms of the deal, Iran agreed the heavy-water reactor would be reconfigured so it was not capable of yielding material for a nuclear weapon. The removal of the core is one of the final steps required by the deal.”
Iran has always claimed its nuclear program was entirely peaceful, and the Arak reactor was used for creating isotopes useful in medical research and treatment.
AFP observes that it will be up to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear inspectors, to determine if Iran has fully complied with the terms of the deal.
The IAEA has not set a date for its final report yet, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was confident sanctions would be lifted, “God willing, in the coming days,” and promised a “year of economic prosperity” ahead.