Posted: 8/23/2004 12:58:03 AM EST
Iran pursues 2d nuclear reactor with Russia's help
By Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press | August 23, 2004
TEHRAN -- Iran said yesterday that it plans to build a second nuclear reactor with Russia's help and that at least two other European states have expressed interest in such a project, brushing aside US accusations that the Islamic state wants to build atomic weapons.
Russia is building Iran's first nuclear reactor, which was begun by West Germany but interrupted during the 1979 Islamic revolution. Damage caused to the nearly completed facility in Bushehr during Iran's 1980-88 war with Iraq also led to the postponement of its planned inauguration from 2003 to August 2006.
Despite the delays and the project's $800 million cost, Iranian nuclear officials say they want Russia to build more nuclear reactors to help generate greater amounts of electricity.
The comments yesterday reflect Iran's determination to push ahead with its nuclear program despite US and international concerns that it seeks to develop nuclear weapons.
The United States has been lobbying for the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran's nuclear dossier to the Security Council. Tehran denies seeking to develop weapons.
Asadollah Sabouri, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, did not say when construction might begin but insisted Russia was obligated to build more than one nuclear reactor under a 1992 agreement between the two countries.
"We have contracts with Russia to build more nuclear reactors. No number has been specified but definitely our contract with Russia is to build more than one nuclear power plant," Sabouri said, adding that Tehran has carried out several studies and technical reports for the construction of new facilities.
Despite US pressure, Russia has been reluctant to abandon the nuclear reactor refit project at Bushehr.