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Friday, July 12, 2024

Russia to build two more nuclear reactors in Iran

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Russia has struck a deal to build two more nuclear reactors in Iran to be possibly followed by another six, a move intended to cement closer ties between the two countries.

The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, with US secretary of state John Kerry. Agreement between Iran and other world powers would ease western sanctions against Iran’s economy. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty
The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, with US secretary of state John Kerry. Agreement between Iran and other world powers would ease western sanctions against Iran’s economy. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

The deal comes less than two weeks before the 24 November deadline for Tehran to sign an agreement on its nuclear programme with six world powers. Tuesday’s contract has no immediate relation to the talks that involve Russia and the US, but it reflects Moscow’s intention to deepen its links with Tehran before possible softening of western sanctions against Iran.

Nuclear officials from the two countries signed a contract for building two reactors at Iran’s first Russia-built nuclear plant in Bushehr.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s Rosatom state corporation, and Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, also signed a protocol envisaging possible construction of two more reactors in Bushehr and another four in an undetermined location.

“It’s a turning point in the development of relations between our countries,” Salehi said after the signing, according to Russian news reports.

Rosatom said the construction of the new reactors would be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. As in the case of Bushehr’s first reactor that became operational in 2013, Russia will supply uranium fuel and then take it back for reprocessing – a provision intended to prevent a possibility of Iran using the spent fuel to build atomic weapons.

A potential agreement between Iran and the six powers would ease western sanctions against Iran’s economy if Tehran agrees to limit its uranium enrichment to a level that would make it unable to build nuclear weapons. Iran has dismissed western suspicions that it is working covertly to develop nuclear weapons, insisting that its nuclear activities are aimed at peaceful energy demands and medical needs.

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