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US says some work okay at Arak nuclear site

Nuclear fuel production, testing and control systems advances are all disallowed, though some construction is permissible at Iranian facility

Iran's heavy water nuclear facilities near the central city of Arak, 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Tehran (photo credit: AP/ISNA/Hamid Foroutan/File)
Iran's heavy water nuclear facilities near the central city of Arak, 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Tehran (photo credit: AP/ISNA/Hamid Foroutan/File)

WASHINGTON — Iran can undertake some construction work at a key nuclear facility as long as fuel isn’t produced and advances aren’t made on a planned heavy water reactor, a US official said Wednesday.

The Arak site was among the thorniest issues negotiators sought to resolve in last weekend’s nuclear agreement in Geneva.

The White House said afterward Iran wouldn’t advance its “activities” at Arak or progress toward plutonium production. It spelled out several more constraints.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday while his country was honoring the deal, construction on building projects would continue.

“The capacity at the Arak site is not going to increase. It means no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed, but construction will continue there,” Reuters quoted Zarif as saying.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says she isn’t sure what work Zarif meant. She says road or building work might be allowable. But nuclear fuel production, reactor work, testing, control systems advances and other activities aren’t permissible.

The Arak facility became a sticking point in negotiations in a previous round of negotiations with Iran earlier in November, with France reportedly scuppering a deal with Iran because its terms vis-à-vis Arak were unsatisfactory.

Zarif also said that Iran would continue to enrich uranium at levels from 3.5 to 5 percent, but would not construct new enrichment sites, according to PressTV.

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