American and European officials believe Iran may be switching to a different technology for nuclear weapons development and “could be producing weapons-grade plutonium by next summer.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the United States and other Western governments have been “focused primarily” on Iran’s uranium program but now believe Iran “could use the development of a heavy water nuclear reactor to produce plutonium for a bomb.”
The reactor is being constructed in the city of Arak. It will use uranium fuel to generate power; a by-product of that process is the plutonium that “can serve as the raw material for an explosive device.”
This path to a nuclear weapon is widely viewed as a complicating factor in any talks with newly inaugurated Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, and it also heightens “the possibility of an Israeli strike” against Iran.
The heavy water reactor is “an easier target to hit than the underground facilities that house Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities.”
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