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December 5, 2013 11:37 am

Iran’s Atomic Energy Chief Salehi Says Arak Reactor is Source of Pride for Iranians

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avatar by Joshua Levitt

The Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor in Iran. Photo: Nanking2012/Wikimedia Commons.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said Iranian pride is behind its desire to see the Arak heavy water reactor completed, according to a report by semi-official Iranian state media agency FARS on Thursday.

“Arak heavy water reactor is a source of pride for Iran,” Salehi said, adding that not completing the construction of the heavy water reactor would be tantamount to quitting Iran’s right to enrich uranium.

“If they wish us not to have such a reactor, this means that they have never been willing to see our nuclear case go back on normal track,” Salehi said.

Salehi denied claims against Iran that the reactor’s true purpose is to achieve weapons-grade enrichment because it is a source of plutonium production which can be used to fuel an atomic bomb. He said, “The weapon graded plutonium should be free of any toxic materials, whereas Arak reactor does not produce such a kind of plutonium.”

On Thursday, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said the group acquiesced to what will be a third visit to the Arak heavy water plant by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency later this week. The inspection had been pending before the agreement reached in Geneva last month to partially lift sanctions against Iran in exchange for deeper inspections of its nuclear facilities.

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