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Iran to build two new nuclear plants


Let's read what http://www.aljazeera.com/me.asp?service_ID=13421 had declared 4/15/2007 1:00:00 PM GMT



AFP Photo) Iranian director of production of nuclear energy, Ahmad Fayaz Bak

4/15/2007 1:00:00 PM GMT


Iran said on Sunday that it will issue tenders in the next few days for two new nuclear power stations, despite growing international pressure over its atomic program.

"Iran is launching two tenders for the construction of two nuclear power stations of between 1,000 and 1,600 megawatts capacity in Bushehr," the director of production of nuclear energy, Ahmad Fayaz Bakhsh, told reporters.

The southern city of Bushehr is the location of Iran’s first atomic power plant, which is being built by the Russians. Its completion, originally due for this year, has been held up by a string of delays.

Bakhsh said Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization would publish the tender offers in the press in the coming days, adding that the cost of the new power plants will be between 1.4 billion and 1.7 billion dollars and that the construction of the two facilities would take between "9 and 11 years".

According to AFP, the tender literature put the closing date for bids at August 8.

Asked if European firms had shown any interest in the tender plans, Bakhsh said: "There are already contacts with Russian and European firms."

Russia is expected to supply fuel for the plant it’s building in Bushehr, but the first shipment that was due last month was delayed after Moscow accused Iran of late payments – a charge Tehran strongly denies.

Bakhsh said fuel for the new plants will be "provided by Iran and the rest will be imported". 

"As part of the 20-year economic plan, Iran intends to produce the fuel for two power stations… By putting these two reactors out to tender, technology will be transferred to Iran gradually and it can help improving Iran's technical knowledge in the next 20 years," he said.

Iranian officials have repeatedly expressed frustration with Russia's failure to finish the Bushehr plant on time and hinted that U.S. pressure on Moscow could be to blame.

A former Iranian MP and leading researcher into Russian issues, Elaheh Koulaei, cast doubt on whether Iran could rely on Russia in conflicts with the West.

"Are the Russians ready to defend us in our confrontations with the Europe and the United States? What positions do the Russians hold in relations with us compared to their relations with Europe and the United States?" she wrote Sunday in an article on the Etemad newspaper.

Iran said last year that it plans to build a network of nuclear power plants with a capacity for 20,000 MW by 2020.

Bakhsh’s announcement shows that Tehran has no intention of bowing to Western pressure over its nuclear program, despite being slapped with two sets of UN sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment – a process used to make material for nuclear fuel, or atomic bombs.

Tehran, which insists that its nuclear plans are strictly peaceful, said last week that its uranium enrichment program reached an "industrial phase" – an announcement that was dismissed on Friday by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Muhammad El-Baradei, who said that Tehran only installed "hundreds" of centrifuges for enriching uranium, not the thousands that would be needed for industrial production. 

Iran’s foreign ministry replied Sunday that El-Baradei would know the exact progress of Iran's nuclear program when IAEA inspectors return home from an ongoing routine inspection visit to Natanz.

"The report will show our latest activities and will be a good thing as it will clear up ambiguities," said foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini.