Iran on Saturday began construction on a new nuclear power plant in the country's southwest, The Associated Press reported, citing Iranian state TV.
The new 300-megawatt plant, known as Karoon, will take eight years to build and cost around $2 billion, the country’s state television and radio agency reported. It will be located in Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province, near its western border with Iraq, it said.
The construction site’s inauguration ceremony was attended by Mohammed Eslami, head of Iran’s civilian Atomic Energy Organization, who first unveiled construction plans for Karoon in April, according to AP.
Iran has one nuclear power plant at its southern port of Bushehr that went online in 2011 with help from Russia, but also several underground nuclear facilities.
In 2019, Iran and Russia inaugurated a new phase of construction for a second reactor at Bushehr.
The announcement of Karoon’s construction comes as indirect talks between the US and Iran on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal remain stalled.
Iran in September announced it had submitted its comments to the US response to the European Union’s draft for reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
While Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at the time that Iran’s response was prepared based on a constructive approach, a senior Biden administration official said the Iranian response "is not at all encouraging.”
A US official later said that the efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have “hit a wall” because of Iran's insistence on the closure of the UN nuclear watchdog's investigations.
More recently, the US envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, said that Iran's crackdown on protesters and the sale of drones to Russia have turned the United States' focus away from reviving the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has been scaling back its compliance with the Iran nuclear deal since the US withdrew from it in 2018, announced two weeks ago it had begun producing enriched uranium at 60% purity at the underground Fordo nuclear facility.