Iran Invites IAEA to Inspect Arak Plant

Inspectors invited to visit the site on December 8. IAEA set to expand monitoring of Iran’s uranium enrichment sites.

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The heavy water facility at Arak
The heavy water facility at Arak
AFP photo

Iran has invited U.N. inspectors to visit its Arak heavy-water plant. The Hindu reported Thursday that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano announced in Vienna during a meeting on Thursday of the agency’s 35-member board that inspectors have been invited to visit the site on December 8.

The Arak facility produces heavy water for the nearby research reactor that is under construction. During the Geneva talks, Iran’s interlocutors—United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany—wanted Tehran to halt all work on the facility related to the production of plutonium that can be used to develop an atomic bomb. Iran claims that the reactor, which it has said could start up next year, will produce medical isotopes.

Amano said that the IAEA was set to expand its monitoring of Iran’s uranium enrichment sites, as mandated by the Geneva agreement.

"This will include the implications for funding and staffing," said the IAEA chief. “This analysis will take some time. I will consult the board as soon as possible when it has been completed."

The visit of the IAEA inspectors would be the result of a separate agreement signed on November 11 between the agency and Iran.

Iran has agreed to halt installation work at the reactor and to stop making fuel for it.

Consequently, the deal signed in Geneva halts work on the production of reactor fuel, as well as the reprocessing unit, which is necessary for separating plutonium from the spent reactor fuel. Iran has also agreed not to fuel the reactor, transfer fuel and heavy water to the reactor site, or install any additional reactor components at Arak.

 Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif told parliament on Wednesday that construction work at Arak would continue, but new fuel will not be produced and new equipment would not be installed, Iran’s English Press TV reported.