AP: A heavy water reactor in central Iran should be able to produce
up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of plutonium by 2007, enough for a nuclear bomb, an exiled Iranian opposition group claimed on Thursday.
The National Council of Resistance said the main unit of the reactor near Arak was already producing heavy water and work on a third
unit is «near an end.»
By ELAINE GANLEY
PARIS – A heavy water reactor in central Iran should be able to produce up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of plutonium by 2007, enough for a nuclear bomb, an exiled Iranian opposition group claimed on Thursday.
The National Council of Resistance said the main unit of the reactor near Arak was already producing heavy water and work on a third unit is «near an end.»
The 40-megawatt heavy water nuclear reactor should be ready in 2006 or 2007, said Mohammed Mohaddessin, head of the group’s foreign affairs committee.
«The Iranian regime is engaged in an all-out race against time to terminate the complex,» Mohaddessin told a news conference in Paris. The objective, he claimed, is «to obtain plutonium to build a nuclear bomb.»
The existence of the reactor has been known for several years and Europeans, who are in negotiations with Iran, had asked Tehran to stop construction and build a light water reactor instead. Iran refused.
Nuclear experts consider heavy water reactors a danger because they provide for a simpler way of producing bomb fuel.
Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that the reactor near Arak would be finished in 2014, said Mohaddessin, citing information from the group’s sources inside Iran.
The National Council of Resistance serves as the political arm for the Mujahedeen Khalq, deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
However, some of the group’s past information about Iran’s nuclear program have proved accurate. Mohaddessin said that sources inside the Arak facility were among those providing information.
The United States suspects Iran of using its once-covert nuclear program to produce weapons, which Tehran firmly denies. It claims the nuclear technology is for civilian purposes only, such as producing electricity.
France, Britain and Germany are holding talks with Tehran in a bid to guarantee that nuclear weapons cannot be produced by Iran.
Under an agreement reached last year, Iran suspended its uranium enrichment program during talks about European economic, political and technological aid.
The European deal left Iran free to produce plutonium, which can also be used to build nuclear weapons.
Mohaddessin said the group’s information confirms that the Iran issue should be put before the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, as Washington earlier threatened.
He cited a «confidential» parliamentary report dated February 2004 on Iran’s nuclear activities, which he said he received earlier Thursday, as evidence that Iran has covert motives for its nuclear program.
The report, as cited by Mohaddessin, says the majlis, or parliament, was not informed about the construction of nuclear sites at Arak or at Natanz or about the projects’ budgets.
«This report clearly reveals Tehran’s real intentions for its nuclear program, so much so that parliament is not aware and it is outside the budget,» he said.