China and Iran held their first bilateral seminar on civil nuclear cooperation under the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran Nuclear Deal, on Wednesday in Beijing. Officials and nuclear experts discussed potential collaborations under the framework of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal.
It comes amid mounting uncertainty over the Deal, as US President Donald Trump is considering pulling out of it and imposing sanctions if the deal's flaws couldn't be fixed.
China, as a key party to the landmark deal, is offering solutions.
Key officials from China's Atomic Energy Authority, Chinese Foreign Ministry, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran as well as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have attended the bilateral seminar.
“China is committed to the full and continuous implementation of the JCPOA, and all the other three European (E3) countries, Russia, United States, and the EU – have sent their observers to the seminar. I think it demonstrates that they are still committed to the JCPOA…at least at this moment,” said Dong Zhihua, deputy director-general of Arms Control Department, Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Implemented in July 2015, the JCPOA was struck between Iran and five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany and the EU, after tough negotiations.
Under the framework, civil nuclear cooperation plays an integral part. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Iran in 2016, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. One prime example is the redesign of Arak nuclear reactor in Iran.
“China and Iran have already engaged in civil nuclear cooperation, for example, the modernization of the Arak heavy water reactor. The counterpart agencies have already established very good contacts and conducted in-depth cooperation. On the basis of that, we hope to broaden the scope of the cooperation,” Dong added.
Following Wednesday’s seminar, Iranian officials and nuclear experts will pay a visit to the Hualong One project, China’s third-generation nuclear power reactor, in southeast China’s Fujian Province. As Chinese nuclear power technologies are going global, more opportunities are in store.
“The most important is people in both countries to work together. That’s the key of this kind of seminars. We can work together in nuclear reactors, and we have very good capacity to work together on this and many other peaceful operation of nuclear technology,” said Mr. Behrooz Kamalvandi, vice president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.
Unlike fossil-fueled power plants, nuclear facilities do not generate emissions, which helps combat climate change. Thus, developing the civil nuclear industry has become a common goal of the international community.
Whether the US will take real moves against the current Iran nuclear deal is still unclear. As the deal allows the US to waive sanctions every 120 days, the next deadline of May 12 may offer us an answer.