The Russian government is planning to sign a contract to build up to eight new nuclear reactors in Iran, according to sources close to the negotiations speaking to Reuters. The news follows reports that Russia had planned to build two new nuclear reactors for the country.
The source told Reuters that the plan would include two nuclear reactors but could grow, depending on negotiations, to up to eight. “Russia and Iran may sign an intergovernmental agreement this year on building from four to eight nuclear reactors, and, under the deal, the contract for the construction of the first two reactors as additions to Bushehr,” the source added. Bushehr, Iran’s first and only nuclear power plant and the first of its kind in the Middle East, began operating thanks to Russian construction in 2011.
Reuters also notes that Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom had said that it was negotiating with Iran to build another reactor. Rosatom did not respond to requests for comment on this development.
According to reports from RIA Novosti, two of the reactors would enhance the facility at Bushehr, while no information has surfaced regarding where the other six reactors would be built. The two reactions at Bushehr were initially announced by Iranian news outlet IRNA earlier this month. “Iran and Russia reached a preliminary agreement to build at least two new nuclear power plants,” stated Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi then.
The news of potentially eight new reactors in Iran comes as the defense ministers of both Iran and Russia meet in Russia. These talks, according to the Associated Press, aim to deepen the relationship between the two countries at a time of high tension between both and the United States. Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan invited his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu to Tehran to send a “clear message to the Americans.”
Iran is currently undergoing six-way talks with the international community on the nuclear issue, and it is unclear how the new deal with Russia will affect these negotiations. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif described the talks, held in Vienna, Austria, as “very successful… in terms of understanding and clarification.” The negotiations did not yield any terms or appear to change the tense status quo between Iran and Western countries in any way. President Hassan Rouhani, speaking from China, noted that the negotiations appeared to be in “a very important and sensitive and tough juncture.” He noted that he was not “pessimistic” about the results of negotiations.