TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran has launched its plan for building more nuclear power plants, a senior nuclear official said here on Tuesday.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) signed deals today with six local companies tasking them to hunt for potential sites for new nuclear power plants, the Islamic republic news agency reported.
“These six domestic companies have been given 13 months to find appropriate locations to build new atomic power plants,” the director of nuclear energy production company Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh, was quoted as saying after signing the deals.
“After finalizing the locations, construction of the power plants can begin,” he said, without mentioning how many would be built.
The announcement came with Iran under intense international pressure over its refusal to give up its NPT right of uranium enrichment.
A Russian contractor is currently building Iran’s first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr, which is expected to go on line later this year.
Iran has previously announced plans to build six more nuclear power plants by 2021.
Iran and the West are locked in a standoff over Tehran’s progress in the field of civilian nuclear technology. Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.
Tehran has dismisses West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.
Iran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, and insists that it will continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.
Tehran says that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.
Political analysts believe that the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran mainly due to the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries.
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.
The United States has recently increased efforts to gain approval of its allies to impose a fourth set of sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicts the report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs.
Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seems to be completely irrational.
The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.
The UN nuclear watchdog has so far carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.
Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports, stressing that Tehran’s case should be normalized and returned to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the Islamic Republic’s increased cooperation with the agency.