DUBAI - Iran is prepared to modify its planned Arak heavy water reactor to help allay Western concerns, its nuclear energy chief said in published remarks that could be the first such suggestion by a senior Iranian official.

Western powers, preparing for negotiations with Iran on a long-term deal defining the scope of its disputed nuclear program, fear Arak could provide a supply of plutonium - one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can be used for the core of a nuclear weapon - once operational.

The Islamic Republic has said the reactor is designed to produce isotopes for medical treatments, and has denied that any of its nuclear activity is geared to developing a bomb.

In an interview with Iran's state-run Press TV, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, did not spell out how any changes could be made to the Arak plant.

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