This article examines possible modifications of Iran’s IR-40 (Arak) heavy-water reactor that would limit its plutonium production without compromising its usefulness for civilian purposes. The proposed modifications only involve the fuel composition, avoid changes to the fuel and core geometry, and therefore have the advantage of minimizing the overall complexity and cost of conversion as well as shortening the time period required to implement these modifications. The suggested changes would significantly reduce the reactor’s production of plutonium from 7–9 kilograms to less than 1 kilogram per year. The article also examines key safety parameters, medical isotope production rates, and uranium resource requirements for all modifications considered. The analysis is relevant beyond the case of Iran’s Arak reactor and may provide some future guidance for converting other heavy-water reactors that continue to operate today.
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