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Iran and Russia Finalizing Plans for Two More Nuclear Plants

After prolonged negotiations, Iran is moving to finalize plans with Russia to build at least two more nuclear power plants.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/24/2014, 6:15 AM

Bushehr nuclear reactor
Bushehr nuclear reactor
Reuters

Iran is moving to finalize plans with Russia to build at least two more nuclear power plants on the Islamic Republic's southern Gulf shores, AFP reported on Monday, citing Iranian media reports.

The announcement came as Russia's Rosatom deputy chief Nikolai Spassky arrived in Tehran for a two-day visit during which he will meet senior nuclear officials.

Spassky will also meet Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, a senior negotiator in talks with world powers on Iran's nuclear ambitions, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said that after months of negotiations, the deal with Moscow would be signed this week, the ISNA news agency reported.

Under a provisional agreement, Russia will build two more 1,000-megawatt plants next to Iran's sole existing plant in the southern Gulf port city of Bushehr.

No further details have been reported.

The Islamic Republic signed the Bushehr contract with Russia in 1995 and the nuclear power plant reached its full capacity by August 2012. The plant made headlines last year when it experienced a critical malfunction, leading some to believe that it had been the result of a cyber attack. 

Last month it was reported that Russia could go even further and build up to eight reactors in Iran.

Iran says it wants to operate at least 20 nuclear power plants capable of producing 20,000 megawatts of electricity, as a way of decreasing dependency on its vast oil and gas resources.

"It is possible that in addition to the two nuclear power plants, we will also discuss further power plants," Kamalvandi said, according to AFP.

Announcement of the deal comes as Western powers, Russia included, are holding ongoing talks with Iran to ensure that its other controversial nuclear activities - including enrichment of uranium - are of a purely civilian nature.

A new round of talks is scheduled for July 2 in Vienna, as Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany work to transform an interim deal into a lasting accord by a self-imposed July 20 deadline.

Last week, Iran informed the six major powers it would not accept their "excessive demands" after the latest talks ended with no breakthrough.