Iran Constructing the 40 MW Heavy Water Reactor at Arak Despite Calls Not to Do So by the European Union and the IAEA Board of Governors

March 4, 2005

Institute for Science and International Security

February 29, 2004
Space Imaging
February 17, 2005
Space Imaging
February 27, 2005
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In his briefing to the IAEA Board of Governors on March 1, 2005, Pierre Goldschmidt, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards, said Iranian officials have, "indicated that the Heavy Water Research Reactor (IR-40) project is progressing." The IAEA board, in its September 2004 resolution, called on Iran "as a further confidence-building measure, voluntarily to reconsider its decision to start construction of a research reactor modified by heavy water."

New satelllite imagery obtained by ISIS from Space Imaging and DigitalGlobe supports the Iranian statement and other statements of unnamed sources that, "Iran has laid the foundations for the research reactor at Arak," as reported by Reuters on March 3, 2005.

The construction complicates negotiations currently underway between the European Union and Iran. The Europeans are asking that Iran abandon all uranium enrichment activities, reprocessing-related activities, and the heavy water reactor project. The Europeans have offered to replace the heavy water reactor with a light water research reactor that would be more proliferation resistant. The spent fuel from this imported reactor could be sent out of Iran, a step that Iran has agreed to do with the fuel from the Russian-supplied Bushehr power reactors.

Adjacent to the reactor construction site is the heavy water production plant, which is anticipated to supply the necessary heavy water for the heavy water reactor. The Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Dr. Hasan Rowhani, said on February 7, 2005 on Iranian television, "We may be able to produce heavy water soon, within the next few weeks."

No evidence of any reprocessing facilities can be seen in the satellite images.