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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs