VIENNA: Iran has postponed until 2014 the planned startup of a research reactor which Western experts say could potentially offer the Islamic Republic a second route to produce material for a nuclear bomb, a UN report showed.
Tehran has continued to install cooling and moderator circuit piping in the heavy water plant near the town of Arak. Nuclear analysts say this type of reactor could yield plutonium for nuclear arms if the spent fuel is reprocessed, something Iran has said it has no intention of doing.
But the country has now delayed the planned timetable for bringing Arak on line by about half a year from the third quarter of 2013, according to the latest UN information in a confidential report submitted to member states late on Friday.
“Iran stated that the operation of the IR-40 reactor was now expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014,” the IAEA report said.
The Arms Control Association, a Washington-based research and advocacy group, said it was questionable whether Iran would be able to meet the new target date as well, in view of “significant delays and impeded access to necessary materials” because of international sanctions imposed on Iran.