In nuclear talks, Iran spars with world powers over future of Arak reactor

The Iran nuclear program's Arak heavy water reactor. Credit: Nanking2012/Wikimedia Commons.

( Following a two-day session of nuclear talks in Geneva, Iran and world powers still have significant differences in opinion over the future of Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor as well as the country’s enrichment capability.

The U.S. wants Iran to address concerns over the nuclear reactor in Arak, which according to the International Atomic Energy Agency could produce plutonium for nuclear bombs.

“We have long said that we believe that Arak should not be a heavy water reactor as it is, that we did not think that that met the objectives of this negotiation,” a U.S. official told Reuters.

Iran, however, has said it will not shut Arak down.

“The Arak reactor is part of Iran’s nuclear program and will not be closed down, [like] our research and development activities,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in Geneva.

The U.S. is also concerned about the level of Iran’s uranium enrichment, and says a gap on the issue still remains between America and Iran.

“It’s a gap [on enrichment] that’s going to take some hard work to get to a place where we can find agreement,” the U.S. official added, according to Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not believe Iran should have any enrichment capabilities and has repeatedly criticized world leaders for suggesting that Iran may still retain limited capabilities. 

“Unfortunately, the leading powers of the world are talking about leaving Iran with the capability to enrich uranium,” Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in early March. “I hope they do not do that because that would be a grave error.”

Posted on March 19, 2014 .