Vienna — Inspectors belonging to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna fear that Iran is trying to conceal forbidden construction in the nuclear reactor being built in Arak.
This was said by a source in the IAEA to Yediot Ahronot.
The assessments are based on intelligence received recently by the IAEA from several Western intelligence agencies. The fact that Iran is barring the inspectors from entering the reactor site, and is building high, opaque roofs there, also heightens suspicions. It would appear that the Iranians are trying to prevent spy satellites from photographing the reactor from space.
The nuclear reactor at Arak, 320 kilometers south of Tehran, is the second reactor being built today in Iran, after the reactor that Russia is building in Bushehr, in a German building put up in the 1970s. Unlike the reactor in Bushehr, which is a light water reactor in which a nuclear bomb cannot be manufactured, the reactor in Arak is a heavy water reactor, and the fission process carried out there creates plutonium in sufficient amounts to make a bomb.
Three years ago, Iran opened a heavy water plant near the reactor site in Arak, for supplying coolant to the reactor. Satellite footage shows that the plant is working at full pace, and worse-the construction of the reactor at Arak is advancing at great speed.
In photographs from 2007, it is possible to clearly see the reactor building and the buildings intended for the fuel rods (“hot cells”). Around the site, Iran has set up a series of anti-aircraft missile batteries. It is believed that if the construction of the reactor should continue as planned, Iran will be able to reach its first plutonium-based nuclear bomb by the middle of the next decade. Iran says that the reactor’s sole purpose is to produce electricity, and for a certain period even placed it under the supervision of the IAEA, which sent inspectors to verify that Iran was not breaking the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it had signed. But for several months, UN inspectors have not entered the site.
Recently, high roofs were built over the entire area of the site, blocking the view of spy satellites attempting to photograph what is happening inside. It is feared that construction is taking place there, perhaps construction that will later be concealed, when they permit the inspectors to enter. Such construction could demonstrate, if exposed to Western eyes, that the Arak reactor is indeed not intended to manufacture electricity, but rather to manufacture fissionable material that will serve to build a nuclear bomb.