Report: Iran's Arak reactor to have nuclear weapons grade plutonium by next summer

Western officials tell Wall Street Journal Arak nuclear reactor is easier target for Israel to attack.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
August 5, 2013 15:56
2 minute read.
Arak heavy water reactor

Arak heavy water reactor 370. (photo credit: reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

The Arak heavy water nuclear reactor in Iran will be capable of producing two nuclear bombs' worth of weapons grade plutonium a year and will be capable of producing the material by next summer, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday that cited US, UN and EU officials.

Progress at Arak could complicate international efforts to negotiate with Iran on its suspected nuclear arms program and it also "heightens the possibility of an Israeli strike on the site," the report stated, citing officials.

According to the report, US and the West has been focused mainly on Iran's program to enrich uranium and that the issue of plutonium, that can also serve as a material for an explosive devise, took some officials by surprise.

Regarding the capabilities of the Arak reactor, the report quoted an official based at the IAEA's Vienna headquarters who said that it "really crept up on us."

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the 
Iranian threat

The Wall Street Journal report stressed that a site like Arak was more vulnerable to attack compared to Iran's other enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom.

"There's no question that the reactor and its heavy water are more vulnerable targets than the enrichment plants," the report quoted Gary Samore as saying, a former top adviser on nuclear issues to US President Barack Obama.


"This could be another factor in [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu's calculations in deciding how long to wait before launching military operations," Samore added.

The report cited current and former US officials who said an Israeli strike on Arak would likely have to take place prior to Iran introducing nuclear materials into the facility, in order to prevent an enormous environmental disaster.

Echoing this concern about the consequences of attacking a nuclear facility was a senior Israeli security official.

"Whoever considers attacking an active reactor is willing to invite another Chernobyl," former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said last month, referring to the 1986 Soviet reactor accident which sent radioactive dust across much of Europe. "And there is no one who wants to do that."

In May, Netanyahu said that Iran's work on a heavy-water reactor to build a plutonium-based bomb and its nuclear enrichment program was "the biggest challenge of our time.”

The Islamic Republic claims its nuclear program is peaceful, and insists it will use the Arak facility to make isotopes for medical and agricultural use.

Reuters and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Bushehr nuclear Iranian
August 5, 2014
Iran and the bomb: The future of negotiations

By YONAH JEREMY BOB