West Willing to Help Iran with 2nd N. Plant

A00268861.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s Management and Construction of Nuclear Plants Company said Sunday some Western countries have declared their readiness to cooperate with Iran on its second light-water nuclear plant.

Iranian technicians are currently designing the country’s second nuclear plant in Darkhoveyn, which is located in the southern province of Khuzestan.

“Several Western countries have already declared their readiness to cooperate with Iran on the project,” Managing director of the company Hamid Soltani was quoted as saying. “We will try to use international experience.”

The construction of the 360-megawatt light-water nuclear plant is scheduled to begin by 2012, press tv said.

Iran announced in summer that it had started designing a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in Darkhoveyn.

Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

Tehran has dismissed West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.

Russia is helping Iran build the country’s first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr. The plant was expected to launch early this year, but its operation was postponed for several months due to disputes on payment.

Russian Ambassador to Tehran Alexander Sadovnikov said in August that Bushehr nuclear power plant would be ready by the end of 2008.

Iranian officials have said that Bushehr nuclear power plant would be operational in early 2009.

Iran insists that it should continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel for its Darkhoveyn and Bushehr power plants.

Iran currently suffers from an electricity shortage that has forced the country into adopting a rationing program by scheduling power outages – of up to two hours a day – across both urban and rural areas.

Iran plans to construct additional nuclear power plants to provide for the electricity needs of its growing population.

Iran also said in August that it was preparing to build more nuclear power plants.

Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh, deputy chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and head of a state-owned nuclear energy production company, said his company has signed an agreement with six local companies, assigning them to hunt for potential sites for new nuclear power plants within 13 months.

Political observers believe that the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran mainly over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicts a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

The UN nuclear watchdog has so far carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.

Also in his latest report to the 35-nation Board of Governors, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed “the non-diversion” of nuclear material in Iran and added that the agency had found no “components of a nuclear weapon” or “related nuclear physics studies” in the country.

The IAEA report confirmed that Iran has managed to enrich uranium-235 to a level ‘less than 5 percent.’ Such a rate is consistent with the construction of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear arms production, meanwhile, requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.

The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog continues snap inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and has reported that all “declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports, stressing that Tehran’s case should be normalized and returned to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the Islamic Republic’s increased cooperation with the agency.

Observers believe that the shift of policy by the White House to send William Burns – the third highest-ranking diplomat in the US – to the latest round of Iran-West talks happened after Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran lost steam due to the growing international vigilance.

US President George W. Bush finished a tour of the Middle East in winter to gain the consensus of his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

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