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'Iran is developing 2nd path to nuclear weapons'
ByJPOST.COM STAFF
February 27, 2013 04:38
'Daily Telegraph' publishes satellite images that show activity at Arak heavy water plant that could lead to plutonium production.
A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 km southwest of Tehran January 15, 2011.

Arak plant, Iran 370. (photo credit:Reuters)

Iran is developing a second path to achieving a nuclear weapon by operating a heavy water plant in Arak that could produce plutonium, satellite images published by The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday show.

The satellite images that were taken on February 9 indicate that Tehran has activated the plant.



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Nuclear analysts say this type of reactor could yield plutonium for nuclear arms if the spent fuel is reprocessed, something Iran has said it has no intention of doing. Iran has said it "does not have reprocessing activities", the IAEA said.

Previous international talks regarding Iran's nuclear program focused on Tehran's attempts to enrich uranium, while the Arak plant could provide an alternative using plutonium production, the Telegraph reported.

Additional images of the area show the Arak plant is protected by numerous anti-aircraft missile and artillery sites that are heavily concentrated to the west of the plant, which would be the most direct line of approach for a long-range strike from Israel, according to the Telegraph.

According to the Telegraph, the heavy water facility has not been visited by any international inspectors since August 2011 and the Islamic Republic has repeatedly refused requests for information about the site. The nuclear reactor in the Arak complex has been opened to IAEA inspection.

Iran rejects Western allegations it seeks to develop a capability to assemble nuclear weapons, saying its atomic program is entirely peaceful and that the Arak reactor will produce isotopes for medical and agricultural use.

Iran says it plans to begin operating the facility in the first quarter of 2014, the IAEA said.

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The new images provided by the Telegraph also show the details of the Fordow nuclear reactor, that is hidden hundreds of feet underneath a mountain.

The images were published as the West offered Iran limited sanctions relief if it agrees to halt its most sensitive nuclear work, while Iran's state-run Press TV reported Tuesday that Tehran is to offer a "comprehensive package of proposals" during the talks.

Meanwhile Israeli officials on Tuesday dismissed Tehran's claims that it was prepared to make an offer to major world powers during the talks in Kazakhstan as a "ploy" to draw out diplomacy so it could continue enriching uranium.

The talks are the first meeting on the issue in eight months-time that Iran has used to expand atomic activity that the West suspects is aimed at developing a bomb capability - the powers hope Iran will engage in serious negotiations on finding a diplomatic solution.

The negotiations formally got under way in the Kazakh city of Almaty - which follows three inconclusive meetings last year in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow. A second day of talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, is expected Wednesday.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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