Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Iranian atomic energy officials on Monday unveiled a new stage in their efforts to remain committed to the 2015 nuclear deal, which reconfigures a nuclear reactor for civilian purposes.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, led reporters on a tour of the Arak heavy water facility to announce the completion of its new "secondary circuit." The plant was closed four years ago as one of several key steps necessary to comply with the Obama-era agreement, which was abandoned by the Trump administration last year.
During its closure, Iranian officials were to retrofit the facility for non-weapons purposes. Monday, officials demonstrated how they achieved that.
"Today, we make operational a remarkable part of the reactor titled the secondary circuit which is different from the primary part," Salehi said Monday. "The primary circuit is tasked with removing heat from the heart of the reactor, and the secondary circuit is responsible for transferring the heat from the primary circuit to cooling towers and finally to the outside environment."
Iran says the plant has been remade to produce isotopes for medical and agricultural uses.
Tehran has said repeatedly it wishes to continue the deal, although it has taken several steps away from the agreement this year -- including exceeding the deal's stockpile limits for enriched uranium, a key element of a nuclear weapon. Other signatories to the pact, including Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, have struggled to salvage the deal.
"Westerners said the reactor is capable of producing eight kilograms of plutonium per year, which is enough for atomic bombs construction," he said. "Having the reactor redesigned, it can only produce one kilogram of plutonium annually."