TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran has begun designing its second light-water nuclear power plant, a 360-megawatt facility in the southwest.
Deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Mohammad Saeedi said experts have chosen the site where the light-water nuclear reactor will be built using local technology.
Iran is still finishing building its first nuclear power plant, a 1,000-megawatt reactor in the southern city of Bushehr being constructed with Russian help. It is to begin operations later this year.
Iranian officials had earlier said that the country was planning to build a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in Darkhovin, in the southwestern Khuzestan province.
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 dismissed West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.
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 it has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
Iran insists that it has to 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.
Iran currently suffers from an electricity shortage that has forced the country into adopting a rationing program by scheduling power outages – of up to two hours a day – across both urban and rural areas.
The Islamic Republic plans to construct additional nuclear power plants to provide for the electricity needs of its growing population.
Elsewhere, Saeedi said that Iran will try to respond the questions of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the framework of its obligations, the Islamic republic news agency reported.
Iran’s cooperation with IAEA is continuous and based on modality, Saeedi told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting.
“Our cooperation with IAEA is normal and will be continued,” Saeedi said.
“We will try to normalize and to regulate all the issues within the legal obligations,” he added.
IAEA deputy chief Olli Heinonen arrived in Tehran early last Monday to follow up his previous talks with Iranian officials, which were held during his two-day visit in Iran on Aug. 7-8.
Iranian officials said the talks with the UN nuclear watchdog were “constructive” and would continue such talks in the future.
The talks came after US sought to convince other world powers to consider new sanctions against Iran, saying Iran has failed to give a “clear positive response” to their latest offer of incentives.
Iran said it would provide a clear response to the offer only after certain ambiguities existing in the package are removed.
On June 14, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana handed the offer of incentives to the Iranian authorities on behalf of France, Britain, Russia, China, the United States and Germany during his visit to Tehran in a bid to persuade Iran to give up its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) right of uranium enrichment.
Iran has also presented its own package of proposals, which is aimed to help resolve regional and international problems, including Iran’s nuclear issue.
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 also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.
The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog continues snap inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and has reported that all “declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”
Tehran has also repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.
Observers 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.
Observers believe that the shift of policy by the White House to send William Burns – the third highest-ranking diplomat in the US – to the latest round of Iran-West talks happened after Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran lost steam due to the growing international vigilance.
US President George W. Bush finished a tour of the Middle East in winter to gain the consensus of 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.
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.
The IAEA’s next report on Iran is due in September when the seasonal meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors will be held.