Iran’s top nuclear official has said the core of the Arak heavy water reactor has been removed – a step that brings the country closer to the lifting of international sanctions.
The announcement by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi, reported by state TV, comes days after he said the reactor would be disabled this week.
“The core vessel of the Arak reactor has been removed … and IAEA inspectors will visit the site to verify it and report it to the IAEA … We are ready for the implementation day of the deal [signed with international powers in July 2015],” he said.
The reactor core was capable of producing plutonium and its fate was a major point of disagreement during the negotiations between six leading world powers and Iran, which resulted in a deal last year.
According to the agreement signed in July, the reactor is to be retrofitted with the help of foreign specialists to be used for research projects and the production of medical radioactive isotopes.
The deal with Iran resolved a decade-long conflict over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program. A number of countries, including the US and Israel, accused the Islamic Republic of trying to secretly develop a nuclear weapon – something Tehran denied. The deal provides safeguards that would allow Iran to pursue civilian nuclear projects while ensuring it would not seek to build a nuclear bomb.
The Obama administration hailed the agreement as one of the major wins of his presidency. Obama’s critics in the Republican camp, as well as politicians and government officials in Israel, decried it as a defeat and surrender to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
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