Iran Announces 2 New Nuclear Plants as Talks Continue

Iran announces plans to construct two more new nuclear power plants in the near future, as sides inch closer to an agreement in Geneva.

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Elad Benari,

Bushehr nuclear power plant
Bushehr nuclear power plant
AFP file

As talks between Iran and six world powers over Iran’s nuclear program continued, the Islamic Republic announced on Saturday it plans to construct two more new nuclear power plants in the near future.

“The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has put construction of the second and third (nuclear) power stations on its agenda due to the government’s programs and the emphasis laid by the President (Hassan Rouhani),” AEOI Deputy Chief Hossein Khalfi was quoted as having said by the semi-official Fars news agency.

Khalfi underlined that Iran is in a good situation in terms of construction of nuclear power plants, and said, “We have launched the Bushehr nuclear power plant and handed it over to the country’s experts in the past two months.”

He reiterated that by launching the Bushehr plant the country prevents the flow of seven million tons of various types of pollutants, which are dangerous to the environment, into the air.

“The country will save around seven million barrels of fossil fuel which amounts to about $700 million if each barrel of oil is priced at $100 after the (full) launch of the Bushehr power plant,” he said, according to Fars.

The comments came as talks in Geneva over Iran’s controversial nuclear program continued.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that "narrow gaps" remain on the same issues that blocked agreement at the last round earlier this month.

"We're not here because things are necessarily finished," Hague told reporters on Saturday. "We're here because they're difficult, and they remain difficult."

Hague and other foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, arrived in Geneva over the weekend as talks seemed to be making progress and headed towards a deal.

On Saturday night, however, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister indicated that while the sides were “98% close” to an agreement, a deal was stalled because Tehran insists that it retain the ability to enrich uranium.

"In the past 10 years, Iran has resisted economic and political pressures and sanctions aimed at abandoning its enrichment activities," Abbas Araqchi told reporters.

"Therefore,” he added, “any agreement without recognizing Iran's right to enrich, practically and verbally, will be unacceptable for Tehran."