Iran is seeking expertise from European countries to help advance its civilian nuclear program, and is hoping to sign up the Czech Republic to build new nuclear power plants as well as develop cooperation with the European Union.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said that countries with long experience in the field of nuclear energy are of particular interest, the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency reported on Monday.
“After so many years of not being able to make trips with such aims, we now intend to expand our cooperation with s few European countries that have the nuclear technology,” Kamalvandi said.
“Perhaps, there are only 20 countries that have access to nuclear knowledge, and some of them, such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, have been in the business for decades,” he noted. “That’s why we want to cooperate with them.”
Last July, Iran signed a nuclear agreement with world powers in which it committed to dismantling weapons-capable parts of its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of strict financial sanctions that had impacted the Iranian economy.
AEOI chief Ali Akbar Salehi is scheduled to visit the Czech Republic next week, and then head to Slovakia for talks on proposals for nuclear power plants.
Salehi told journalists in Tehran on Sunday that Iran is holding discussions with the European Union on nuclear cooperation, including a joint project at the Fordo uranium enrichment plant.
“Various talks and visits have been made between Iran and certain European states after the nuclear deal and this time we are witnessing the presence of an EU delegation within this framework,” Salehi said after meeting the EU energy commissioner Maros Sefcovic.
“We have held good talks with the EU delegation on nuclear cooperation, which can start from the Fordo site,” Salehi noted, according to Fars. He said that Tehran and the EU plan to set up an advanced nuclear center to provide services for Iran and other countries in the region.
Under the terms of the July 2015 nuclear deal, Iran agreed to convert the Fordo site into a research facility and remove about two-thirds of all its installed centrifuges as well as significant infrastructure.
Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said nuclear cooperation was on the agenda during a one-day visit by a delegation headed by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Last week, AEOI spokesman Kamalvandi said Tehran and the European Union are set to sign a deal on nuclear cooperation for civilian purposes, Fars reported.
“Cooperation has started in practice and we have exchanged delegations with the EU, China, South Korea, Japan, the far East and countries which enjoy nuclear technology, whose number is not so high; we will interact with all of them and a document is due to be endorsed with the EU which is being compiled,” Kamalvandi said.
Meanwhile, Reuters on Monday quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Tehran was in negotiations with Moscow to sell it 40 tons of heavy water from its nuclear program.
Citing Fars, Reuters quoted comments made by Araghchi the day before, when he announced that the US has already bought some of the heavy water and other countries were taking an interest.
“We are negotiating with Russia to sell 40 tonnes of heavy water,” Araghchi also said.
Under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, which Araghchi helped to negotiate, Iran agreed to get rid of its stockpile of heavy water. Although heavy water is not radioactive, it is used in the process of making an atomic bomb.
According to Reuters, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Moscow was mulling the idea.