Iran is talking to Russia about building two more nuclear plants in Bushehr province, according to a senior official who spoke to an Iranian media outlet on Tuesday.
The head of the Iranian Parliament’s Energy Committee Jalil Jafari Boneh Khalkhal told the semi-official Fars news agency that the second and third atomic power plants will be similar to the existent facility in the southern province, but with higher safety standards.
President Hassan Rouhani announced on Saturday that Iran would build a second nuclear plant at Bushehr.
“Our first nuclear power plant is active in the (Bushehr) province which will develop, God willing,” Rouhani said in a speech Saturday night to officials in Bushehr province, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Sunday.
The current Bushehr reactor was built by Russia and reached full capacity last year. “Based on our estimates, the second nuclear power plant will be built in the same province and I hope that we can use the facilities of this province,” Rouhani said.
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said Sunday that the Islamic Republic needs more nuclear power plants, the country’s official news agency reported.
Salehi said the additional nuclear power would help the country reduce its carbon emissions and its consumption of oil, IRNA reported. He said Iran should produce 150 tons of nuclear fuel to supply five nuclear power plants.
“We should take required action for building power plants for 20,000 megawatts of electricity” in the long term, Salehi said.
The comments come after Iran agreed to freeze part of its nuclear program in return for Western powers easing crippling economic sanctions.
Last month, Salehi spoke of building several new nuclear power plants and added: “We are not obliged to introduce to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the nuclear facilities that we are to build in the future. And only 180 days before entry of nuclear substances there, we will inform the IAEA of them,” Salehi said, according to Fars.
His deputy said in 2012 that Iran had identified 34 potential sites for building additional nuclear power plants.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes. The US, Israel and other Western allies are concerned that Iran is bent on building nuclear weapons.
In an interview with the Financial Times on Friday, Rouhani said the scale of Iran’s nuclear program would be determined by its civilian energy needs.
Rouhani said that while weapons of mass destruction were not on Tehran’s agenda “as a matter of principle,” it would go on enriching uranium to meet its energy needs.
He spoke less than a week after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif signed a deal with the P5+1 limiting its ability to install new centrifuges and enrich uranium beyond 5 percent.
Rouhani said the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program could be confirmed by IAEA cameras monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.