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UN Inspectors Visit Key Iran Nuclear Site

The heavy-water reactor in Arak, Iran (AFP) July 30, 2007 -- Iran's official news agency, IRNA, reports that a group of United Nations nuclear inspectors has visited one of Iran's key nuclear sites.

The agency said the team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited the heavy-water reactor site in Arak, which is currently under construction. Heavy water is used in one type of nuclear-fuel production process.

Iran agreed earlier this month to let the IAEA inspectors visit the Arak complex. The move is a key step in efforts to allay concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

On August 6, IAEA inspectors are scheduled to continue their investigation with visits to the Natanz uranium-enrichment plant and a uranium-ore conversion plant near Isfahan. The two plants conduct separate stages of the nuclear fuel-making process.

(Reuters, AFP)

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)


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


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.