Iran Intends to Restart Work on Arak Heavy Water Reactor

MP says efforts to revive reactor site if parties don't protect Iran trade

Iran’s semi-official news agency has quoted an MP as saying that Iran intends to restart work on the Arak Heavy Water Reactor site, among to get it back to the state it was in before the P5+1 nuclear deal was reached.

Arak was intended to replace the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), build by the US in the 1960s, as a source of medical isotopes. Western officials objected to the design, which was at the time still under construction, so under the P5+1 deal it was  agreed the existing site would be scrapped in favor of a newer design.

The new design never happened, however, and Iran apparently had the foresight to buy replacement parts for everything they had to dismantle under the deal, in case of this exact situation.  This is another move by Iran to try to press the remaining parties of the deal to come through on promised sanctions relief and trade protection.

The Arak facility would run off unenriched uranium and heavy water. Iran has created a substantial heavy water production site. Western objections were that the site’s waste would include byproduct plutonium, and while Iran made no effort to build any facilities to process that waste, it would give them access to plutonium, which if they started enriching, could be weaponized. Again, Iran made no effort to process the waste, let alone weaponize the plutonium, so this was all purely a theoretical complaint.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of