Iran to launch new nuclear plant project: state TV

Iran is to build a new nuclear power plant, alongside its sole existing one in the southern city of Bushehr, by early 2014, state television reported on Sunday, quoting the head of the country's Atomic Energy Organisation.

"Iran will build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr next year," the television quoted Fereydoon Abbasi Davani as saying. He was referring to the Iranian calendar year running from March 2013 to March 2014.

The Mehr news agency suggested the timeline could be longer, quoting Abbasi Davani as saying: "We will begin plans for a 1,000-megawatt plant in Bushehr next year." He said foreign contractors would be needed for its construction.

The Mehr and ISNA news agencies both reported another nuclear plant was also planned and could be built in coming years.

ISNA quoted Abbasi Davani as saying that designs for a 360-megawatt facility in Darkhovin, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan near the border with Iraq, "have been finished and we are reviewing it."

He did not elaborate.

Darkhovin, a project initiated by France but abandoned after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, has been stalled because of European sanctions against Tehran.

In September 2011, deputy nuclear chief Mohammad Ahmadian said Iran was seeking foreign help to finish the project.

The current Bushehr nuclear plant was started by German engineers in the 1970s and was completed by Russia, which continues to help keeping it running and provides fuel for it. Inaugurated in 2010, it is due to come fully on-line in November this year.

In addition, Iran has a research reactor operating in Tehran that is used to make medical isotopes for patients with cancer and other illnesses.

A new Bushehr plant would boost electricity production in Iran, which has some of the world's biggest reserves.

State television made its announcement in the wake of talks in Baghdad on Wednesday and Thursday between Iran and world powers that focused on Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.

Those talks almost collapsed because of the very different positions held by the two sides, but agreement was finally reached to hold another round in Moscow on June 18-19.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful and aimed at producing energy and medical isotopes.

The world powers -- the Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- suspect the programme could include work towards developing a nuclear weapons capability, and they have backed UN Security Council resolutions demanding Iran curb its activities.

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