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China, Iran to Sign First Arak Reactor Contract

By | Apr 20, 2017 02:41 PM EDT
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Iran Begins To Fuel The Country's First Nuclear Power Station

This handout image supplied by the IIPA (Iran International Photo Agency) shows a view of the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant as the first fuel is loaded, in Bushehr, southern Iran. (Photo : Getty Images)

Chinese and Iranian firms are set to sign the first commercial contracts on Sunday in Vienna to redesign an Iranian nuclear plant, with initial agreements having been already reached in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

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"The signing of this contract will create good conditions for substantively starting the redesign project," Lu Kang, the ministry's spokesperson, said, describing the accord as an important part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal called as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The deal on the 40-megawatt Arak reactor aims to reconfigure the heavy water reactor so as to yield fissile plutonium usable for a nuclear bomb. Iran said that it plans to use the plant to produce isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments.

It also denied allegations that any of its nuclear activity is geared toward producing weapons. Iran has removed the reactor's sensitive core, and UN inspectors have reportedly inspected and confirmed the move.

Iran and the P5+1 countries, which include the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia plus Germany, reached the JCPOA in July 2015 and started to implement it in January. Under the JCPOA, "Iran will redesign and rebuild a modernized heavy water research reactor in Arak, based on an agreed conceptual design, using fuel enriched up to 3.67%, in the form of an international partnership which will certify the final design."

Meanwhile, Lu also said that China is hoping that all parties to the JCPOA would handle disagreements appropriately and ensure that the deal is implemented.

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