Iran rejects EU nuclear reactor offer

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Iran has rejected an offer by the European Union to supply a light-water nuclear research reactor.

Iran currently plans to build a heavy-water reactor at Arak in central in Iran, which could be used to convert uranium into plutonium, an element used to build atomic bombs.

The reactor design being offered by the EU would demand the use of enriched uranium, while a heavy-water reactor only requires natural uranium for fuel. Were Iran to take the EU reactor, their ability to use the reactor would be limited by outside supplies of enriched uranium—presumably allowing better regulation of their ability to use the civilian reactor for military purposes. With a heavy-water reactor, Iran would be able to presumably use uranium from its own uranium mines, and would be less dependent on Western technology or approval.[1] According to GlobalSecurity.org, Iran has as many as 10 active uranium mines.

According to BBC News, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi rejected the offer saying "We intend to turn into an important and a major player in the nuclear fuel supply market in the next 15 years because there will be an energy shortage in the future."

The U.S. and the EU want Iran to cease all operations that could be used to produce weapons-grade nuclear material—namely uranium enrichment and the proposed heavy-water reactor operation.

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