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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Iran to build two more nuclear plants

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran plans to build two 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactors and will solicit bids within the next two months, a senior official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The tender will be open to domestic and international firms.

The decision to build two more nuclear plants comes amid mounting Western pressure on the Islamic state to suspend its uranium enrichment work.

"We want to build two nuclear power plants through an international tender," said Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

"Iranian and international companies can participate in the tender, which will be within the next two months," he added.

He did not say where the reactors would be located.

In recent years, Iran has built plants generating 12,500 megawatts of electricity, and its first 1,000 MW nuclear power plant, being built with Russian help in the southern port of Bushehr, will come on stream in late 2007.

Washington and its allies fear Iran could use even limited enrichment facilities to master the technology to produce bomb-grade fuel. But Tehran insists its nuclear program is only to generate electricity to satisfy booming demand.

Russia has said it is interested in bidding for more nuclear work in Iran. Tehran has repeatedly said that Russia would have an advantage over other countries for the construction of Iran's new nuclear reactors.

The five permanent
U.N. Security Council powers and Germany are planning to meet in Vienna on Thursday to try to finalize a package of incentives for Iran to halt uranium enrichment along with penalties if it keeps defying international pressure.

Iran insists it has the right to process the uranium it mines in its central deserts for use in these power and Tehran has so far dismissed the initiative, saying no incentives will convince it to give up what it calls its national right.
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