Iran will continue construction at Arak nuclear site - Zarif

DUBAI Wed Nov 27, 2013 8:38am GMT

A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 km (120 miles) southwest of Tehran January 15, 2011. REUTERS/ISNA/Hamid Forootan

A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 km (120 miles) southwest of Tehran January 15, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/ISNA/Hamid Forootan

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran will press on with construction at a nuclear reactor site at Arak, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Wednesday, despite an agreement with Western powers to halt activity.

The uncompleted heavy-water research reactor emerged as one of several crucial issues in negotiations in Geneva last week, when Iran agreed with six world powers to curb Tehran's nuclear programme for six months in return for limited sanctions relief.

Iran said it would not make "any further advances of its activities" on the Arak reactor, according to text of the agreement.

"The capacity at the Arak site is not going to increase. It means no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed, but construction will continue there," Zarif told parliament in translated comments broadcast on Iran's Press TV.

But experts have said an apparent gap in the text could allow Tehran to build components off-site to install later in the nuclear reactor. It was not immediately clear if Zarif was referring to this or other construction activity.

Tehran has said it could open the reactor as soon as next year. It says its purpose is only to make medical isotopes, but Western countries say it could also produce plutonium, one of two materials, along with enriched uranium, that can be used to make the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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