Iran to begin construction of two new nuclear units at Bushehr

30 August 2016

Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) spokesman Behrouz (Behruz) Kamalvandi said on 28 August that financing is now in place to build two more units at the Bushehr NPP.  He told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA): "In order to complete negotiations on the two new power plants, we have provided financial resources at the order of the president [Hassan Rouhani], and the financial problem is settled. We will try to finalise negotiations in coming weeks and we will declare a date for the beginning of the construction of the power plants." An agreement to expand civilian nuclear energy cooperation and construct a total of eight additional nuclear reactors at Bushehr was signed between Russia and Iran in November 2014.

Kamalvandi noted that a $5bn loan from Russia, recently approved by the Majlis (parliament), would be used to support the plant construction. Earlier in August, public procurement information published by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom suggested that start up of Bushehr’s third unit is planned for April 2026.  Unit 1, built by Russia’s Atopmstroyexport, began operating in 2011 and reached full capacity in 2012. In April 2016, the unit was formally handed over to Iran.

Kamalvandi also told ISNA that Iran's heavy water stockpile amounted to 170t, of which 39t tonnes were to be sold to Russia. He added that the purity of Iran's heavy water is 99.95% and noted that currently European countries are the biggest customers of the product. He added: "The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervises the sale of heavy water and we can sell it to whoever we want."

Earlier, Iran also sold 32t of heavy water to the USA. AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi in July criticised critics who are against such sales, explaining that Iran would need  heavy water for its Arak research reactor, currently undergoing a redesign as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed with the P5+1 countries (USA, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) in July 2015. “If the Arak reactor becomes operational in the next few years, then it will require 60-70t of heavy water. However, we produce 25t of heavy water a year….What should we do with the [excess] heavy water if we do not sell it?"

Russia and Iran are also progressing on a deal to convert Iran’s Fordow former uranium enrichment plant into a production facility for heavy isotopes, Rosatom said earlier in August.The reprofiling of the Fordow facility was stipulated in the JCPOA. In April, Russia’s permanent envoy to the IAEA and other international organizations in Vienna, Vladimir Voronkov, said that the type of stable isotopes to be produced at Fordow had already been determined and production at the reorganized facility could start in 2018.



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