Report says Iran ‘illicitly’ buying material for reactor

If completed, the heavy water reactor will produce enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons a year

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Iran is being accused of illicitly stepping up purchases for its heavy water reactor, which if completed will produce enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons a year, U.N. diplomats said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

The allegation against Iran by an unnamed country, if true, would suggest that Tehran is rejecting the U.S. reconfiguration of the reactor in the city of Arak into a light-water reactor.

The United States and its partners want Iran to agree to re-engineer Arak to a light-water reactor that produces only minuscule amounts of plutonium.

The Iranians would rather re-engineer it to produce less plutonium - but that process is reversible, and therefore opposed by the Americans.

The accusation was contained in a report to the Security Council sanctions committee prepared by experts monitoring sanctions against Iran, according to two diplomats familiar with the report who spoke anonymously because the report hasn't been made public.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said he had no information about the purchase of any new equipment for Arak.

“Iran has agreed not to set up new equipment in Arak facility and it has not done so ever since,” he said.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington not only knows - and is concerned - about “Iran's illicit procurement activities,” but has spoken about them publicly and has imposed penalties on companies involved.

The Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Iran because of concerns it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and its refusal to suspend enrichment.

Tehran claims its nuclear program is peaceful and exists only to produce energy for civilian use.

A yearlong effort by the two sides to seal a nuclear deal by a Nov. 24 deadline failed and talks have been extended for seven months.

[With AP]