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Sat 25 Mar 2006 04:00 AM

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Iran to start nuclear building

Arab state will begin construction on new power plants in order to meet rising energy demands in the country

Iran is set to begin construction on the first of a string of nuclear power plants within six months, in order to meet rising energy demands in the country.

Despite opposition from the US and Europe, the Arab state plans to build six more 1,000mW nuclear power plants by 2021, when its electricity consumption will reach 56,000mW.

Iran says that it will need to produce 70,000mW of electricity to cope with the perceived demand, with 7000mW set to be generated by nuclear power.

Energy minister, Parviz Fattah, said that Iran’s fuel resources were nowhere close to being able to meet an expected doubling of electricity consumption in the next 10 years, and therefore nuclear power was a necessity.

“We are not talking about a political issue but a technical one. That is why we declared that the ministry is ready to build indigenous power plants on the basis of domestic capacities,” said Fattah.

He said that a feasibility study had been carried out and that operations will begin in three to six months, but did not specify where the plant would be built. The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran has signed a contract to provide fuel for the plant.

Iran’s first nuclear reactor has been built at Bushehr on the Persian shores in southern Iran with Russian assistance, and is expected to be operational sometime in August this year.

In January, Iran announced plans for its second and third nuclear power plants, and said that the projects would be open to international bidding.

Iran insists its programme is designed to only generate electricity, but the US claims that Tehran has more sinister motivations behind its nuclear development plan.

Britain and France are also sceptical, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, also says that it has serious questions about Iran’s programme.

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