Iran says will construct 2 more nuclear power stations
Islamic republic's organization for atomic energy announces construction of second, third nuclear power stations. Reports suggest new facilities will not bear capability of producing putonium. Nuclear talks yet to determine status of Tehran's purportedly peaceful nuclear development
Deputy Chief of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Hossein Khalfi said Saturday that Tehran has put construction of the second and third nuclear power stations, Fars news agency reported Saturday.
According to the report, Khalifi announced the two more power stations' construction during the opening ceremony of the 25th Exhibition of Iran’s Nuclear Industry Achievements, saying the construction was in line with instructions laid by President Hassan Rohani.
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The deputy chief noted that Iran was doing well in terms of its nuclear power plants construction, adding “We have launched the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant and handed it over to the country’s experts in the past two months.”
According to Khalfi, the launching of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant prevents the flow of pollutants, thereby saving the republic some $700 million as well as minimizing pollution.
"Once the control of the Bushehr nuclear power plant is delivered to the Iranian experts in the next two months, the plant will start industrial operation phase," Fars quoted Khalifi as saying.
The announcement suggests that the new nuclear power stations will not be using heavy water, meaning that they will be unable to produce plutonium.
Tehran denies it would ever "weaponize" enrichment.
Diplomats said a formidable stumbling block in the nuclear negotiations, which began on Wednesday in Geneva, may have been settled with compromise language that does not explicitly recognize Iran's claim to a "right to enrich" uranium but acknowledges all countries' right to their own civilian nuclear energy.
Diplomats said revised wording did not explicitly recognize a right to produce nuclear fuel. "If you speak about the right to a peaceful nuclear program, that's open to interpretation," a diplomat said.
However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: "Enrichment in Iran will not stop and ... enrichment will be a part of any agreement."
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters on Saturday that "In the past 10 years, Iran has resisted economic and political pressures and sanctions aimed at abandoning its enrichment activities.
"Therefore any agreement without recognizing Iran's right to enrich, practically and verbally, will be unacceptable for Tehran," he said on the fourth day of talks aimed at securing a deal that would freeze parts of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Araqchi said that "98% progress" had been achieved in the talks with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, adding there were only a few areas of disagreement remaining.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is coordinating the talks with Iran on behalf of the six nations, held "intensive discussions" with Zarif throughout Saturday and later briefed the other foreign ministers about their talks.
Israel says the deal being offered would give Iran more time for to master nuclear technology and amass potential bomb fuel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told local media in Moscow that Iran was essentially given an "unbelievable Christmas present – the capacity to maintain this (nuclear) breakout capability for practically no concessions at all".
Yitzhak Benhorin, Reuters contributed to this report
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