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June 4, 2012 1:51 pm

Russia Ready to Build Second Iranian Nuclear Plant in Bushehr

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Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (left) with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Photo: wiki commons.

Russia’s state-run nuclear company says it is ready to help Iran build a second nuclear plant within the next two years in the city of Bushehr, where Russia helped Iran construct its first civilian nuclear power plant, Iranian state media reported. The move reinforces Russia’s international support of the Islamic Republic.

Nikolai Spassky, deputy head of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear company, said “preliminary discussions” to build the second plant have already been held, and that Rosatom will move forward if the plant can be profitable and is not forbidden by international sanctions.

As Russia seeks to support Iran’s rights to continue a civilian nuclear program, a spokesman for the Russian foreign affairs department, quoted in Iran’s Ettelaat newspaper, agreed that global sanctions would devastate Iran, and that they would have a negative effect on the relationship between Russia and Iran, as well as the relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

If the U.S. sanctions on Iran were to put the interests of Russian companies in danger, that could lead to  “heavy” consequences on the Iran-Russia relationship, he said.

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The spokesman noted that in 2010, when Washington imposed unilateral restrictions against some Russian companies and organizations that cooperated with Iran, the strategy backfired:  “We have said many times that excessive pressure on Iran is counterproductive and will take the nuclear talks to a dead-end.”

On Monday, the U.N. nuclear agency chief announced new talks with Iran, urging it to sign a deal that would allow international monitors to investigate suspicions that Tehran has secretly worked on atomic arms.  Iran continues to deny any interest in developing nuclear weapons, insisting that all of its atomic activities are under IAEA purview and are meant purely to power reactors and for medical research.

Its critics note that the Islamic Republic refuses to stop enriching uranium, which can be turned from nuclear fuel into the material needed for warheads, despite offers of reactor fuel from abroad and increasingly tough international sanctions.

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