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Iran has begun construction on two new nuclear plants as negotiations with America over its contested program continue in Geneva, according to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Construction of the nuclear plants, which Iran claims are for peaceful energy purposes, was revealed on Tuesday, the day before Secretary of State John Kerry was to meet with his Iranian counterpart for talks in Geneva.
News of the two new nuclear plants come on the heels of reports that Iran has been operating advanced missile sites in Syria and also building a secret nuclear plant there.
Rouhani touted the new nuclear construction following a meeting with investors in Iran’s southern Bushehr province, where the nuclear facilities are being built.
“Construction of two new power plants will increase the capacity of Bushehr province’s power generation to 2,000 megawatts,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by the country’s state-run Fars News Agency.
Rouhani claimed that the new nuclear construction is proof of Iran’s peaceful intents on this front.
“The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is an example showing that Iran is only looking for a civilian use of the nuclear energy and for power generation,” he was quoted as saying.
The new nuclear plants are being constructed with help from Russia, which signed an agreement in March with Iran to aid in the endeavor.
A State Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Rouhani’s announcement.
Meanwhile, Kerry told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday that both sides are “working hard” to reach a final agreement later this year.
Talks with Iran were extended through mid-2015 after leaders failed to reach what was supposed to be a final agreement in Vienna last year.
Iran is scheduled to receive from the United States another $490 million in unfrozen cash assets on Jan. 21, according to a State Department official. This will be the third such $490 million cash release to Iran since nuclear talks were extended in November.
Iranian military leaders announced earlier this week that Tehran has been building and operating missile factories in Syria, where it has been fighting on behalf of embattled leader Bashar al-Assad.
German reports also have claimed that Iran is building a clandestine nuclear site in Syria.