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Bloomberg May 31 2006
Iran Will Open Tender for Two Nuclear Reactors Within Months
Wed May 31, 2006 05:40

Iran Will Open Tender for Two Nuclear Reactors Within Months

Bloomberg May 31 2006

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- Iran, which is under increasing diplomatic pressure over its atomic program, plans to issue an international tender for the construction of two light-water nuclear reactors, an Iranian official said.

``Iran will announce a tender to build two light-water reactors within two months,'' the state-run Iranian Students News Agency ISNA reported yesterday, citing Iran Atomic Energy Organization Deputy Head Mohammad Saeedi.

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany will meet tomorrow in Vienna to discuss Iran's nuclear program and a package of incentives for the country to suspend its atomic work. The U.S., which will be represented in Vienna by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, says it suspects that Iran's atomic plans are cover for building a nuclear weapon, while Iran says its program is intended to produce electricity.

Light-water reactors run on enriched uranium and use ordinary water as a coolant. Iran already has paid Russia $1 billion to build a light-water reactor in Bushehr, capable of generating some 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

Europe wants Iran to stop building a heavy-water reactor in Arak. Heavy-water reactors, an older nuclear technology, run on natural uranium and produce deuterium as a byproduct, which can be used to build a hydrogen bomb.

The U.S. may join multicountry talks with Iran, which has the world's second-largest oil and natural gas reserves, about its nuclear program, Agence France-Presse reported today.

Veto-Wielding Members

The U.S. would enter the negotiations, should Russia and China approve sanctions against Iran in the event that Iran refuses to curb its nuclear program, AFP said, citing unidentified diplomats in Vienna. The talks would include the Security Council's permanent members, plus Germany, AFP said. The permanent members are the U.S., France, the U.K., Russia and China.

China and Russia, two key economic partners of Iran, are veto-wielding members of the Security Council and have opposed coercive measures such as the use of economic sanctions and military actions on Iran.

France, Germany and the U.K., the so-called EU-3, have been working on a package of incentives to encourage Iran to stop enriching uranium, a process that can be used to produce both nuclear energy and bombs.

Iran is pursuing its enrichment activities ``within the framework'' of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency and for energy purposes, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said yesterday. ``Halting or stopping enrichment is not on the agenda.'' Iran is ready to resume talks with European negotiators ``without preconditions,'' AP cited Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying later from Malaysia.

`Nuclear Club'

Iran joined the ``nuclear club'' on April 9 by enriching uranium to a purity of 3.5 percent, enough to power a nuclear power plant, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced last month. Iran will accelerate enrichment to reach ``industrial scale production,'' he also said.

Iran ignored an April 28 non-binding deadline by the Security Council to suspend uranium enrichment, claiming it is entitled to carry out the process under the Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to which it is a signatory.

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