January 12, 2016 / 11:15 AM / in 2 years

Iran says Arak reactor not yet decommissioned, work ongoing

A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 km (120 miles) southwest of Tehran January 15, 2011. REUTERS/ISNA/Hamid Forootan/Files

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has not yet decommissioned the Arak heavy water reactor, one of its obligations under the nuclear deal with world powers to win a reprieve from sanctions, but expects to do so in the coming days, a senior Iranian official said.

The comments contradicted an earlier report by the Fars news agency, which cited an “informed source” as saying Iran had removed the core of the Arak reactor and filled it with cement.

“The work has started in Arak regarding its removing its core. We are committed to carry out our obligations based on the (nuclear) deal,” a senior Iranian nuclear official said.

“The Implementation Day is going to be soon.”

The precise date for lifting sanctions, known as Implementation Day, has not been determined and depends on a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, verifying Iran has kept its promises under the deal.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it could be just “days away”.

Iranian officials expect to finish implementing the July 14 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the coming days. Iran has already shipped most of its enriched uranium stockpile to Russia, and must still mothball most of its centrifuges and decommission the Arak reactor.

Once the United Nations confirms Iran has done this, international sanctions against Iran will be lifted, paving the way for an influx of foreign investment and, Iranian officials say, a rapid increase in crude oil exports.

“One of our commitments is to redesign the Arak reactor, and everything that we agreed upon is being implemented,” Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi was quoted as saying by the Tasnim agency.

Iran’s government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said sanctions would be lifted “in the coming days”, in a televised news conference on Tuesday.

Reporting by Sam Wilkin and Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Alison Williams

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