Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran To Press On With Heavy-Water Reactor

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad at the Arak heavy-water plant (file photo) (epa) November 18, 2006 -- The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization says Iran will complete a heavy-water nuclear reactor it is building, with or without the help of the UN nuclear watchdog.

Gholam Reza Aghazadeh also said that the four-decades-old light-water reactor in Tehran will be shut down only after the heavy-water reactor at Arak becomes operational in 2009.

Iran is seeking technical assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency to complete the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak, southeast of Tehran. Iran says the plant would make isotopes for medical and other peaceful purposes.

Heavy-water reactors can be used to produce plutonium to make atomic bombs, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly urged Iran to abandon the Arak project.

Talking Technical

Talking Technical

A control panel at the Bushehr nuclear power plant (Fars)

CASCADES AND CENTRIFUGES: Experts and pundits alike continue to debate the goals and status of Iran's nuclear program. It remains unclear whether the program is, as Tehran insists, a purely peaceful enegy project or, as the United States claims, part of an effort to acquire nuclear weapons.
On June 7, 2006, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with nuclear expert Shannon Kile of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden to help sort through some of the technical issues involved. "[Natanz] will be quite a large plant," Kile said. "There will be about 50,000 centrifuges and how much enriched uranium that can produce [is] hard to say because the efficiency of the centrifuges is not really known yet. But it would clearly be enough to be able to produce enough [highly-enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, if that's the route that they chose to go...." (more)


Tehran Says It Is Working On Advanced Nuclear Fusion

Would Light-Water Reactor Suit Tehran's Needs?

Satellite Images Raise Questions About Iran's Nuclear Program

Centrifuges And Political Spin?

How Close Is Iran To Getting Nuclear Bomb?

Iran: The Worst-Case Scenarios

THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.