Iran is ramping up its purchasing of equipment needed to build its heavy water reactor, according to two United Nations diplomats familiar with a report by experts monitoring sanctions against the Middle Eastern country, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. If Iran completes work on the reactor under construction in Arak, the country could produce enough plutonium to manufacture several nuclear weapons a year -- a potential scenario that countries including the U.S. and Israel have described as unacceptable.
Iran, which the West has long believed harbors ambitions of possessing nuclear weapons despite its leaders’ denials, may have violated ongoing sanctions against it if it has in fact not decreased the purchasing of equipment for the reactor, the report states, according to Reuters. The news service stated that it has reviewed the experts’ report.
However, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told the country’s quasi-official Fars news agency, "I don't have any information on this issue," the Jerusalem Post reported. And the International Atomic Energy Agency has said Iran is in compliance with international agreements related to its nuclear program ahead of talks about how to move forward on the nuclear issue in exchange for relief from the crippling sanctions.
The expert panel report was informed in part by a briefing by a U.N. member state -- identified by a number of diplomats as the U.S. -- that said the member state "had observed no recent downturn in procurement by Iran,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
The increased purchasing has led to concerns that Iran is not holding up on its end of the bargain, which includes redesigning the heavy water reactor to only produce very small amounts of plutonium for non-weapon uses.