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