Russia and Iran have signed a cooperation agreement that could lead to the construction of an additional eight nuclear reactors in Iran.

The agreement was signed on 11 November in Moscow by Sergey Kirienko, chief executive officer of Russia’s state atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, and Ali-Akbar Salehi, vice-president of the Islamic Republic of Iran and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

According to the protocol to the intergovernmental agreement the two countries intend to cooperate in the construction of an additional four power units with VVER reactors on turn-key terms at the site of Bushehr NPP, as well as four similar power units on another site in Iran.

"The entire construction project of the nuclear power units in Iran, including equipment and nuclear fuel supplies, will be conducted under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and will fully meet the nuclear nonproliferation regime just as with the construction of the first power unit of Bushehr NPP," Rosatom said.

A contract was also signed between Russian design company NIAEP-ASE and the Nuclear Power Production and Development Company of Iran (NPPD) for the construction of two reactor units at Bushehr Phase II.

Rosatom said that the parties involved intend to ensure the "maximum possible participation" of enterprises and organisations of the Islamic Republic of Iran in all works related to the construction of the new reactors, as well as their operation and decommissioning.

Rosatom will also arrange the training of Iranian specialists in the operation, servicing and corresponding engineering support for the plants, as well as in the areas of regulation and radiation safety.

Russia will fabricate the nuclear fuel for the nuclear power plants throughout the entire lifecycle of the eight new reactors. Spent fuel will then be returned to Russia for reprocessing and storage, Rosaom said. However, it did note that the partners plan to debate the issue of economic expediency and the feasibility of fabricating fuel rod components in Iran for the units.

Russia completed Iran’s only commercial nucelar reactor Unit 1 at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which began commercial operation in September 2013.

Photo: Russia and Iran sign nuclear cooperation agreement in Moscow (Credit: Rosatom)