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Iran's Nuclear Power "Red Line"


Iran won’t abandon its nuclear energy ambitions in pursuit of a nuclear deal, according to leaders in Tehran over the weekend. Iran’s top nuclear official Ali Akbar Salehi reportedly considers the abandonment of his country’s Arak heavy water nuclear reactor a “red line” that won’t be crossed in pursuit of easing Western sanctions. Not only will Iran not jettison its Arak reactor, Salehi thinks Iran needs more nuclear plants.

The six-month interim pact signed last week stopped the advance of Iran’s nuclear program, but when asked whether he would dismantle his nuclear facilities in an interview with the FT, Iranian President Rouhani’s was very clear: “One hundred per cent [no].”

Salehi couched his support for more nuclear reactors in green logic—citing a desire to reduce his country’s greenhouse gas emission—and framed it in terms of energy security. But the unavoidable fact is, the heavy water reactors Iran is employing can also be used to enrich weapons-grade plutonium. You’ll forgive us if we’re skeptical of Tehran’s interest in becoming some kind of green paragon.

Iran is the best example of nuclear energy’s proliferation issue, and recent talks are throwing it into sharp relief. While we wait to see what comes next, it’s worth remembering that a new generation of nuclear is on the way—one that produces less waste and, more relevantly, no weapons-grade material.

[Arak heavy water reactor image courtesy of Wikimedia]

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