The Iranian government announced on Sunday that it plans to build two additional nuclear power plants in the coming years, days after negotiations with world powers in Baghdad failed to produce compromise on uranium enrichment in the Islamic Republic.
"Iran will build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr next year," Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told state television.
The Mehr and INSA news agencies both reported that Tehran was also planning a second new plant in the coming years. Iran currently has one operational nuclear power plant, the only one in the Middle East, which is located in Bushehr on the coast of the Persian Gulf.
German engineers began construction on that plant in the 1975 before the Islamic Revolution brought the Ayatollah regime to power four years later. Russia subsequently finished the plant, which as inaugurated in 2010, and continues to help maintain and provide fuel for the facility.
Abbasi Davani was quoted by INSA as saying that the plans for a new 360-megawatt plant at Darkhovin, near Bushehr, "have been finished and we are reviewing it."
The announcement was made three days after negotiations in Baghdad between Iran and six world powers - China, France, Germany, Russia the US and the UK - failed to produce results. They agreed to meet again in Moscow on June 18-19.
"Evils from all directions"
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed parliament for the first time since two rounds of national elections in March and May, in which hardliners loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini trounced Ahmadinejad 's loyalists.
The president lost support partially due to the perception that he was trying to challenge the Khameini's power. Under the Islamic Republic's constitution, the Supreme Leader has the final say on all national issues.
"Today, evils have been mobilized from all directions to put the Iranian nation under pressure. Removing and resisting the pressures, and cooperation, are the main priority today," Ahmadinejad told lawmakers without elaborating. State TV broadcast the speech live.
Western nations accuse Iran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon and have imposed crushing sanctions against the Islamic Republic's oil exports and banking sector. The United States and Israel have threatened to use military force if Iran doesn't open its program to inspectors and to stop high-level uranium enrichment.
Tehran claims that its atomic program is peaceful and wants the sanctions to be loosened in exchange for possible concessions.
slk/pfd (AP, AFP)