Sunday, December 30, 2007

Iran starts construction of first local nuclear power plant

Dec 30, 2007

Tehran - Iran has started construction of its first local nuclear power plant in Darkhowayn, Energy Minister Parvz Fatah said Sunday.

The 360-megawatt nuclear reactor in Darkhowayn, south-western Khuzestan province, will be constructed under the supervision of the country's Atomic Energy Organization and by Iranian experts only, the minister was quoted by the news network Khabar as saying.

Vice-President Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh, who is also head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said earlier this month that the new plant would be finished within four to five years.

Western nations have said that Iran had only one not yet operating nuclear plant in the southern port of Bushehr and as the fuel for that plant was provided by Russia, the country would have no need to pursue its uranium enrichment process at the current scale.

Aqazadeh and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad however argued that Iran planned to build further nuclear plants in the future and therefore would need the fuel whenever the plants were finished.

The fuel for the Darkhowayn plant is supposed to be provided by the Natanz plant in central Iran.

President Ahmadinejad said that the current 3,000 centrifuges in Natanz were to be increased to 50,000 centrifuges within the next four to five years for providing the fuel for at least one of the new plants.

The Russian state contractor Atomstroiexport has already delivered two consignments of over 80 tons of nuclear fuel to Iran and Tehran hopes that the electricity from the Bushehr plant would join the national power grid within the second quarter of 2008.

Iran might still face a third UN Security Council resolution, including financial sanctions, for having rejected the main international demand of suspending its uranium enrichment programme.

President Ahmadinejad again rejected the demand, saying that Iran's nuclear programmes, including enrichment, 'would go ahead with full gas,' and the country would not be intimidated by sanctions or military threats.

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