08/29/2015, 00.00
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Tehran and Beijing to develop closer ties, work on Arak nuclear reactor project

China will play a leading role in redesigning the Arak heavy-water reactor to reduce its plutonium output from 10 kg to less than 1kg. It might also help Iran build two small, 100 megawatts nuclear reactors. China, Iran and the US are set to meet in mid-September at the International Atomic Energy Agency's general conference.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In the wake of last July’s historic agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, Iranian Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi on Friday said that China would play "a leading role" in redesigning Iran’s Arak heavy-water reactor. This would reduce significantly its plutonium output from 10kg to less than 1kg, and "remove the concerns" others may have over the issue. He also announced that Iran would seek Chinese assistance in building two small 100 megawatts discuss nuclear reactors.

Salehi, who heads Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, spoke at the end of a meeting in Beijing with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (pictured, right) and Chinese nuclear experts and officials, including Xu Dazhe, head of the China Atomic Energy Authority.

The meeting highlighted China's role in the recent nuclear deal reached by Iran and the 5+1 group (China, Russia, the United States, Britain, France and Germany).

Signed in the Austrian capital after months of intense negotiations, the latter ends the “sensitive” component in Iran’s nuclear programme, giving wat to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

One of the key elements of the deal called for Iran to redesign the Arak reactor, which is already in its final stage of construction. In fact, "China has accepted . . . a leading role in a working group that would look into the redesign and refurbishing of Arak. Americans will also participate very seriously," Salehi said.

What is more, under the nuclear deal framework, a trilateral meeting between China, Iran and the United States is set to take place in mid-September on the sidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency's general conference, this despite internal doubts by the American right.

Finally, Iran’s vice-president said that his country was seeking Chinese assistance to build two small nuclear reactors with a capacity of 100 megawatts each. The two sides had discussed the issue "at length" and were expected to close deals "in the coming months", he added.

When economic sanctions on Iran are lifted after the implementation of the nuclear deal, the multibillion-dollar trade relationship between China and Iran is set to boom. The Chinese are especially expected to invest heavily in Iran's oil, gas and industrial sectors.

Indeed, the deal "created more favourable conditions for the development of the China-Iran relationship,” Foreign Minister Wang was quoted by state-run Xinhua as saying.

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