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January 14, 2015 5:42 pm

Rouhani Announces Iran is Building Two New Nuclear Plants

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced plans to build two new nuclear power plants in Iran. Photo: Iranian government.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Tuesday plans to construct two new nuclear power plants to increase the country’s nuclear-generated power output, Iran’s state-run Fars News Agency reported.

“Construction of two new power plants will increase the capacity of Bushehr province’s power generation to 2,000 megawatts,” Rouhani said in a meeting with investors.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rouhani visited the Bushehr nuclear power plant and claimed the country is pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The United States, Israel and many of the world’s powers have long suspected that Iran is, in fact, pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Rouhani asserted, “The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is an example showing that Iran is only looking for a civilian use of the nuclear energy and for power generation.” However, US-based advocacy group The Israel Project said the Iranians will use their new nuclear infrastructure to boost to their “leverage” in negotiations over the country’s nuclear program with the West.

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“The more they have, the more they have to trade away,” the group said on Wednesday, referring to the November, 2013 interim agreement between Iran and world powers. “The JPOA (Joint Plan of Action) was designed to freeze Iran’s program in place so they couldn’t amass leverage and improve their position during negotiations. It didn’t: the Iranians were allowed unlimited enrichment up to 3.5 percent as long as they keep it on the shelf as oxide, unlimited work on their plutonium track as long as they don’t touch their Arak reactor, and unlimited work on ballistic missiles. But it was supposed to.”

The Bushehr nuclear power plant adds 1,000 megawatts of electricity to Iran’s national grid when operating at full capacity, the Fars News Agency claimed. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said in October that the power plant will save Iran $1 billion worth of fossil fuel each year.

Rouhani’s announcement on Tuesday follows an agreement reached in March between Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation and the AEOI to construct at least two more nuclear power plants in Bushehr. On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian chief negotiator Javad Zarif met in Geneva to continue discussions over Iran’s nuclear program.

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