Iran Readies Construction of New Nuke Plant

Aided by Russia

Nuclear power plant near Bushehr, Iran / AP

Iran is gearing up to begin construction this year on a second nuclear reactor that will be built with the help of the Russians, according to regional media reports.

The nuclear plant is currently being designed, and formal construction will begin in the next several months in Iran’s southern Bushehr province, the site of Iran’s existing and operational nuclear reactor.

A third nuclear plant will be constructed soon after the second is operations, according to Iranian officials.

While many critics of the recently inked Iran nuclear deal have expressed concern that these nuclear reactors could provide Iran with an additional pathway to a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has said this type of construction is permissible under the parameters of the accord.

Ali Akbar Salhi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), announced the upcoming construction on Monday and said Russia will be assisting with much of the nuclear plant.

"The contract for building two (new) power plants has been inked with Russia and the preliminary steps and their designing have already started," Salehi was quoted as telling Iranian reports on Monday, according to the state-controlled Fars News Agency.

Iran’s controversial first nuclear reactor also was built with the help of Russia, which provided much of the technology and know-how to construct the plant.

"Construction of the second nuclear power plant will begin by the end of this (Iranian) year," according to Salehi.

"Construction of the third power plant will also start two years after the second power plant will be launched," the official added.

The new nuclear plants will cost Iran more than $10 billion dollars, according to Salehi.

It is possible that the money used to fund the construction could come from the billions of dollars in sanctions relief promised to Iran as part of the nuclear deal.

Iran also will hire about "15,000 technicians" to complete the construction of operation of the plant, according to Salehi.

The Obama administration admitted to the Washington Free Beacon in January that the construction of the nuclear plants is acceptable.

"In general, the construction of light water nuclear reactors is not prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions, nor does it violate [past nuclear agreements]," a State Department official said at the time.