Russia to Enjoy Priority in Iran’s N. Tenders

A002336010.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) – A senior Iranian lawmaker said here Wednesday that Russia would have priority in future tenders for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the Islamic Republic.“We certainly should give priority to Russia in the construction of new stations, because Russia is constructing Iran’s first nuclear power plant in a difficult international situation and has vast experience in this field,” said rapporteur of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Kazem Jalali.

Russia is currently building Iran’s first nuclear power plant in Bushehr, in southern Iran.

Jalali stressed that Russia had completed the delivery of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant’s initial operation.

Russia delivered its final fuel shipment to Bushehr on January 28. With the eighth delivery of five metric tons, Russia had supplied a total of 82 metric tons of low-enriched uranium to the light-water nuclear power plant.

“I hope that the insignificant amount of work left for completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be finished on schedule and no problems will hinder construction this year,” the official said.

The first delivery of fuel to the plant arrived on December 16, 2007 following months of delays that Moscow attributed to payment arrears, but which Iran blamed on pressure from Western nations. The West suspects that Iran’s nuclear program is military-oriented, a claim Tehran has vehemently denied.

Iran hopes its first nuclear power plant will be launched in October.

Jalali said Tehran plans to hold tenders for the construction of 19 nuclear power plants in the country within 20 years, with a capacity of 1,000 MW each.a

The five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany agreed at talks in Berlin on January 22 on a draft for a third sanctions resolution against Iran calling for travel ban, asset freeze and vigilance on all banks in the Islamic Republic.

The US is at loggerheads with Iran over Tehran’s independent and home-grown nuclear technology. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted the recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and a similar report by the IAEA head in November which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities, Russia and China increased resistance to any further punitive measures by the Security Council.

Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhovin.

Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East earlier this month has called on his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the growing international vigilance, specially following the latest IAEA and US intelligence reports.

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