Last Updated: Sun May 27, 2012 16:29 pm (KSA) 13:29 pm (GMT)

Iran to build new power plant in southern city by early 2014

The issue of Iran’s stockpile of uranium and new nuclear plants, were at the center of talks between Iran and six world powers. (File photo)
The issue of Iran’s stockpile of uranium and new nuclear plants, were at the center of talks between Iran and six world powers. (File photo)

Iran is to build a new nuclear power plant, alongside its sole existing one in the southern city of Bushehr, by early 2014, state television reported on Sunday, quoting the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization.

“Iran will build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr next year,” the television quoted Fereydoon Abbasi Davani as saying. He was referring to the Iranian calendar year running from March 2013 to March 2014.

The current Bushehr nuclear plant was started by German engineers in the 1970s, before Iran’s Islamic revolution, and was completed by Russia, which continues to help keeping it running and provides fuel for it.

In addition, Iran has a research reactor operating in Tehran that is used to make medical isotopes for patients with cancer and other illnesses.

A new Bushehr plant would boost electricity production in Iran, which has some of the world’s biggest reserves.

Uranium enrichment

Meanwhile, Tehran is adamant that it has “no reason” to suspend its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent − one of the key demands of world powers engaging in talks over Iran’s nuclear program − the head of its Atomic Energy Organization said late Sunday.

“We have no reason to cede on 20 percent, because we produce only as much of the 20 percent fuel as we need. No more, no less,” Fereydoon Abbasi Davani was quoted as saying late Saturday by the ISNA and Mehr news agencies.

The issue of Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, and its stockpile of that uranium, were at the center of talks on Wednesday and Thursday in Baghdad between Iran and six world powers, known as the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany).

Meanwhile, the United Nations nuclear watchdog has not yet given good enough reasons to visit an Iranian site where it suspects there may have been experiments for developing nuclear weapons, Iranian media said on Sunday.

Tehran denies accusations that it is developing atom bombs, despite a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week said satellite images showed “extensive activities” at the Parchin complex, at the center of Western suspicions over Iran’s nuclear activities.

Iranian officials have refused access to Parchin, southeast of Tehran, saying it is a military site.

“The reasons and document have still not been presented by the agency to convince us to give permission for this visit,” the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency on Saturday.

Six world powers failed to convince Iran last week to halt its most sensitive nuclear work, but they will meet again in Moscow next month to try to end a standoff that has raised fears of a new war.

Iran, which is suffering under Western sanctions, said the inducements were far too little and countered with a demand that the P5+1 declare that it has a right to enrich uranium.

With that impasse, which Abbasi Davani termed “predictable,” the talks teetered on failure and were saved only by last-minute wrangling that agreed to give negotiations another shot in Moscow on June 18-19.

Abbasi Davani was quoted as saying that Iran had now joined the small group of countries “that can produce fuel for others.”

He added: “It is better that others engage us about providing (them) with fuel, not that they (the West) demand we shut down our fuel production.”

According to the latest report by the IAEA, Tehran has produced 145.6 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium, of which nearly a third has been converted into fuel for its research reactor.

Iran has also produced more than six tons of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent, part of which was processed further to make the 20-percent stock.

Uranium enriched to 90 percent or above is used for military ends, to make nuclear warheads. Twenty-percent uranium is considered just a few steps short of that level.

The IAEA has voiced suspicions that Iran might be working towards nuclear weapons research. It says its inspectors have not been given sufficient access to verify or invalidate that suspicion, although it expressed optimism that an agreement should be signed soon with Tehran permitting that.

Iran, for its part, insists its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. It has railed against Western sanctions hitting its vital oil and financial sectors that aim to force it to curb its activities as unfair and illegal, although it claims they are ineffective.

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