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Iran’s Atomic Chief: Reactor Shut Down for Nuclear Deal Can Be Restarted with Spare Parts

The head of Iran’s nuclear agency said that the Islamic Republic acquired spare parts to replace pipes from a reactor that had been filled with concrete as part of the nuclear deal and could make the reactor operational again, The Times of Israel reported Thursday.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), admitted on a television interview that Iran had surreptitiously acquired pipes that could be used in the calandria for the Arak heavy water reactor. A calandria is a repository for the nuclear fuel.

According to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran was supposed to remove the calandria from the reactor and fill it with concrete to make it inoperable.

The Obama White House, in fact, wrote that one of the accomplishments of the deal was that Iran “removed the calandria from its heavy water reactor and filled it with concrete.”

However, Salehi said that Iran did not render the calandria inoperable.

“We had bought the same quantity of similar tubes,” Salehi told the interviewer. “When they told us to pour cement into the tubes… we said: ‘Fine. We will pour.’ But we did not tell them that we had other tubes. Otherwise, they would have told us to pour cement into those tubes as well. Now we have the same tubes.”

Salehi boasted that “we had bought similar tubes, but I could not declare this at the time.”

The Institute of Science and International Security, a think tank devoted to nuclear nonproliferation, observed on Twitter, “And there is Iranian illicit procurement implied – a supplier also broke UN resolutions. Was the import declared to the IAEA? It does not sound like it. Where are the tubes now @iaeaorg?”

The justification for the subterfuge, Salehi explained, was that “we knew that [the Westerners] would ultimately renege on their promises.” He added, “Not only did we avoid destroying the bridges that we had built, but we also built new bridges that would enable us to go back faster if needed.”

Salehi denied that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon. The AEOI chief also said that a  photograph of the calandria filled with concrete was photoshopped.

Weapons experts from both The Institute of Science and International Security and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies have been reviewing documents from the Iranian nuclear archive that Israel captured last year. In their most recent assessment, they concluded that Iran had been developing nuclear warheads.

Salehi’s boasts come at a time that European nations are attempting to maintain economic ties with Iran despite American sanctions. These efforts are proceeding despite Iran’s continued human rights abuses, support for terror, and aggression across the Middle East.

“It is a shame that the European Union, founded first and foremost to preserve European security and stability, has chosen to abandon these principles for blood-stained trade agreements with the theocratic mullah regime,” Julie Lenarz, a Senior Fellow at The Israel Project, wrote in an op-ed published this week. “Iran’s persecuted populations deserve better than being sacrificed on the altar of lucrative business deals with a regime that remains one of the worst violators of human rights in the world.”

[Photo: Tasnim News ]