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

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora