News / Middle East

US Calls Iran's Nuclear Reactor Plans 'Deeply Troubling'

A view of Arak heavy-water project 190 km (120 miles) southwest of Tehran, undated file photo.
A view of Arak heavy-water project 190 km (120 miles) southwest of Tehran, undated file photo.
Reuters
The United States said on Wednesday it was "deeply troubled" by Iran's plans to start a reactor in 2014 that could yield nuclear bomb material while failing to give U.N. inspectors necessary design information about the plant.
 
The comments by a U.S. envoy to a board meeting of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) highlighted deepening Western concern about the heavy-water reactor that Iran is building near the town of Arak.
 
Iran hit back, saying the IAEA had had continuous access to Arak and that the United States, which accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons capability, could not be trusted after going to war in Iraq over reports of weapons of mass destruction that were never found.
 
"We will not yield to pressure, sanctions, threats of attack," Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters, underlining Tehran's determination to press ahead with its nuclear program despite international demands to curb it.
 
Tension over Iran's nuclear course is rising with talks between Tehran and six powers stalled.
 
Israel, widely assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed state, sees Iran as its greatest threat and has threatened to bomb its nuclear sites if diplomacy and sanctions fail to restrain Tehran.
 
Iran says the Arak plant will make isotopes for medical and agricultural use. But analysts say this type of facility can also produce plutonium for weapons if the spent fuel is reprocessed — something Iran says it has no intention of doing.
 
Tasked with ensuring that nuclear material is not diverted for military purposes, the IAEA says Iran must urgently give it design data about Arak to allow it to monitor the site properly.
 
"We are deeply troubled that Iran claims that the IR-40 heavy-water reactor at Arak could be commissioned as soon as early 2014, but still refuses to provide the requisite design information," Joseph Macmanus, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, told the 35-nation Board of Governors.
 
He cited IAEA rules that a member state must inform the Vienna-based U.N. agency about a nuclear plant, and give design details, as soon as it has decided to build one. Iran says it must only do so 180 days before bringing atom fuel to the plant.
 
"Iran's refusal to fulfill this basic obligation must necessarily cause one to ask whether Iran is again pursuing covert nuclear activities," Macmanus said.
 
China, Russia Press Iran

IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts told the board that Iran last provided design information about Arak more than six years ago, when it was at an early stage of construction.
 
It was "sketchy or incomplete and additional information is now required," he said, according to one diplomat.
 
The West suspects Iran is seeking the capability to develop nuclear weapons behind the facade of an atomic energy program.
 
Iran says its nuclear work is a bid to generate electricity and also to make progress in other areas of scientific research. It denies accusations it is seeking to develop atomic weapons.
 
Western worries about Iran are focused largely on uranium enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow, as such material refined to a high level can provide the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
 
But diplomats and experts say Arak could offer Iran another route to nuclear bombs, if it decided to build them.
 
Experts say Arak could produce enough plutonium for one bomb per year, if Iran decided to pursue such weapons of mass destruction. But it would first have to build a facility to chemically separate the material from the spent fuel.
 
"We don't have any plan for reprocessing," Soltanieh said.
 
Israel has twice before bombed suspected reactor construction sites in the Middle East — in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007 — underlining its determination not to allow regional foes to acquire the means to assemble nuclear weapons.
 
To signal big power unity on Iran, China and Russia joined four Western powers in pressing Iran at the IAEA meeting to cooperate with a stalled investigation by the U.N. nuclear agency into suspected atomic weapons research by Tehran.
 
In a joint statement, the six powers said they were "deeply concerned" about Iran's nuclear activities.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More