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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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Iran's President Opens Heavy-Water Plant

August 26, 2006 -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad today opened a heavy-water plant intended to fuel a nuclear research reactor that is currently under construction.

The ceremony took place at the Khondab plant near the city of Arak, some 200 kilometers southwest of Tehran.

Ahmadinejad said that his country's controversial nuclear program poses no threat to any other country, even Israel, "which is a definite enemy."

But he warned that the Iranian people would defend its rights to nuclear technology "with force."

The reactor, which could produce plutonium for use in making nuclear weapons, is scheduled to be opened in 2009.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said that "inaugurating the heavy-water-production plant in Arak is a big step toward using Iran's right, which means achieving peaceful nuclear technology."

The inauguration of the plant comes just days before the UN Security Council's August 31 deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment.

(compiled from agency reports)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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