Iranian authorities announced on Monday the start of construction work on a new nuclear research reactor in Isfahan in central Iran, just days after reporting on a nuclear power plant project in the south of the country.
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“Today we started pouring concrete for the foundation of the reactor at the Isfahan site,” Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), was quoted by the official Irna press agency on Monday.
The Isfahan Nuclear Research Center already has three reactors.
The new 10-megawatt research reactor will serve as a powerful source of neutrons, particularly for the testing of nuclear fuels and materials as well as for the production of industrial radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals, according to the Irna agency.
Iran is subject to severe economic sanctions imposed by the United States under Donald Trump, who in 2018 unilaterally withdrew from the international nuclear deal reached three years earlier that imposed restrictions on Iran's nuclear program.
In response, Tehran began retreating from its obligations under that pact, called the JCPOA, before slowing the rate of production of uranium enriched to 60% last year while informal talks with the United States resumed. United States. But at the end of 2023, Iran accelerated again.
Tehran has always maintained that its nuclear activities are peaceful and has denied it wants to build a nuclear bomb.
Iran is restricting cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “in an unprecedented manner,” which amounts to a “hostage-taking,” its director general Rafael Grossi complained to AFP in January.
On Thursday, the head of the AEOI announced the construction of a nuclear power plant complex in Sirik on the Strait of Hormuz, consisting of four individual plants with a total production capacity of 5,000 megawatts.
“We need to reach a production capacity of 20,000 megawatts of nuclear energy in the country by 2041,” Mr. Eslami said during a tour of the region with Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi.
Only five countries in the world exceed this capacity, namely the United States, France, China, Russia and South Korea.
According to the IRNA agency, the Sirik power plants should be fully operational by 2031. Iran currently has a single operating nuclear power plant in Bushehr with a production capacity of 3,000 megawatts.