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IAEA Board Rejects Iran Bid for Assistance in Building Reactor

  • Marlene Smith

The International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors has rejected Iran's request for assistance in building a heavy water reactor as part of its controversial nuclear program. For VOA, Marlene Smith reports from Vienna the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA welcomed the unanimous decision, saying Iran is more isolated than ever before.

The IAEA board of governors has approved the Technical Cooperation Program for next year with one exception: Iran's request for aid in building a heavy water reactor at Arak.

Gregory Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, told VOA the Arak project was not deferred or postponed but removed from the IAEA's agenda and will not come up for at least another two years.

"The reason for this denial is because the board of governors is seriously concerned about the nature of Iran's program and the intentions of its leadership," he said.

The ambassador said no one believes Iran's claim that the reactor is for medical purposes.

"In fact this is a heavy water reactor that is very well suited to produce plutonium that is used in nuclear weapons," he said.

The ambassador stressed that the board approved other projects for peaceful purposes including those in Iran but the Arak project is a cause for concern in the light of unresolved questions on the true nature of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"There is strong unity between the U.S. and Europe and Russia and China and other like-minded countries that this was just an inappropriate use of technical cooperation," he said.

The IAEA says it cannot give assurances to the international community that Iran's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iran says it is cooperating with the IAEA beyond its legal obligations, and adds it was supported at the board meeting by Cuba speaking for the non-aligned countries.

The U.N. Security Council is considering sanctions against the Islamic Republic because Teheran insists on enriching uranium in defiance of IAEA resolutions.

The United States is the largest contributor to the Technical Assistance Program.

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