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. Iran vows to press on with Arak reactor
TEHRAN, Nov 23 (AFP) Nov 23, 2006
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Thursday that Iran would press on with its Arak heavy water reactor with or without help from the UN nuclear watchdog.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was set Thursday to reject Iran's request for technical help in building a nuclear reactor that the West fears could provide weapon's grade material.

"It is part of the agency's duties to help (on Arak) and if they do not help we will do it on our own," Mottaki told reporters.

According to Iranian officials, the Arak plant being constructed about 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Tehran will be fully operational in 2009. It is of a type that could be adapted to produce plutonium for atomic warheads.

Both the IAEA and the Security Council have called on Iran to "reconsider" building Arak, and a Western diplomat said the IAEA's refusal of assistance for the reactor "should reinforce the point" that Tehran should suspend construction.

The United States and the European Union had argued that Iran, suspected of seeking nuclear weapons and threatened with Security Council sanctions, has no right to technical aid for the Arak reactor.

Iran says the reactor would make isotopes for medical and other peaceful uses. It is to replace a light water research reactor in Tehran, built by the United States before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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