Iran Says Arak Heavy Water Reactor Section Will Be Operational Soon

Officials want section operational in three weeks

Attempts to redesign the Arak Heavy Water reactor in Iran are starting to pick up pace. The secondary section of the reactor is in the process of being brought online. Iranian officials say they expect it to be operational “as early as the next three weeks.”

Iran had to redesign the Arak reactor as part of the P5+1 nuclear deal. The new version is designed to produce much less plutonium in its waste, which was a result of Western complaints that the plutonium might be further processed into a weapon.

The redesign is set, and this secondary section is meant to handle most of the nuclear processes at the facility. There is still no official timeline for bringing the reactor fully online, but clearly it is moving closer.

The heavy water reactor is meant to replace the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), an extremely aged US-made site that produces medical isotopes. The TRR uses high (20%) enriched uranium fuel, which was not always easy to come by, while Arak is intended to use heavy water and unenriched uranium.

Iranian nuclear official Ali Akbar Salehi said that the government is “satisfied” with the new progress being made, and wants to pick up the pace on Arak after previous delays.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of