A general view of the Arak heavy-water project
A general view of the Arak heavy-water projectReuters

Iran will cold test its redesigned Arak nuclear reactor as prelude to fully commissioning it later in the year, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Friday, according to Reuters.

The organization’s spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, was quoted by local media as saying the cold testing, which usually include the initial startup of fluid systems and support systems, will take place early in the Iranian new year that begins this Sunday.

"In other words, we have advanced work in the field of fuel, storage, etc.," Kamalvandi was quoted as having said.

Iran agreed to shut down the reactor at Arak - about 250 km (155 miles) southwest of Tehran - under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. It was allowed to produce a limited amount of heavy water and Tehran has been working on redesigning the reactor. It says it plans to make isotopes for medical and agricultural use.

However, Iran has consistently scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from it in 2018.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month reported that Iran had added 17.6 kilograms (38.8 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 20% to its stockpile as of February 16.

Iran also increased its total enriched uranium stockpile to 2,967.8 kilograms (6,542.9 pounds), up from 2,442.9 kilograms (5,385.7 pounds) reported on November 2, the IAEA said.

Earlier this week, the IAEA said Iran has started enriching uranium at its underground Natanz plant with a second type of advanced centrifuge, the IR-4.

In late 2019, Iran began new operations at the heavy water nuclear reactor in Arak, in a move that does not violate the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, but does inch Tehran’s program closer toward weapons-grade levels.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)