Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), told journalists in London on 16 September that Iran is ready to negotiate on units 4 and 5 of the Nushehr NPP, if funding is available. Recently work started on units 2 and 3 (Bushehr II), which are being built using Russian technology at an estimated cost of $10bn. Salehi said that, given the funding commitments for this project, it is difficult for Iran’s government “to undertake this financial burden”. He added: “If Russia or any other country is willing to finance the future projects, then we are ready for negotiations.” While Iran’s long-term nuclear power development strategy provides for commissioning 20GWe of installed capacity, Salehi noted that a maximum of six power units are planned for the Bushehr site. The next reactors would at other sites, most probably in the Persian Gulf coast, he said.
Salehi told the World Nuclear Association's Annual Symposium that Iran is ready to share its nuclear experience with other nations in the Persian Gulf through a regional nuclear scientific contact group. With electricity demand growing at 6% per year in Iran, more reactors are planned, with desalination projects alongside them. Iran is also looking to utilise small modular reactors (SMRs) of up to 100MWe for electricity production and desalination in remote areas of the country, he said, citing financing considerations as well as the adaptability of SMRs. These will be built close to areas of demand, saving on the costs of transmitting electricity, while their integrated design will have enhanced safety characteristics, he said.
Meanwhile, Iran will transfer the first payment for Bushehr II to Russia before the end of 2016, Suren Ambartsumyan, head of the Bushehr Directorate at Russia’s Atomstroyexport’s (part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom) said.
“Iran will make the advance payment in several instalments before the end of the year,” he said, adding that this year bids would be called for work to remove existing engineering utilities where the new reactors will be built. The initial earthworks at the Bushehr II site will start in late 2017 after the primary operating documentation is made available.