Russia announced on Monday that it would start construction this year on a second nuclear plant in Iran, according to regional reports.
Russia's Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation made the announcement early on Monday, stating that it will begin building a second nuclear power plant in Iran’s southern region later this year, according to Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency.
Meanwhile, an earthquake struck Monday morning near the site of Iran’s current nuclear power plant in Bushehr, near where the second plant will be built.
Iranian media outlets reported the quake as hitting a 4.4 magnitude with no injuries occurring as a result. Iran’s southern region is prone to such incidents.
Iranian officials announced in late 2014 that it had already begun the initial stages of construction on at least two nuclear plants in the region. In November, Tehran finalized a deal with Russia to aid in the construction of these plants.
"We have entered the executive phase of the construction of these two nuclear power plants based on the contract signed between Tehran and Moscow in March to construct the plants," Behrouz Kamalvandi, deputy chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, was quoted as saying at the time.
The construction of these new plants is not barred under the terms of a current agreement between Iran and Western powers to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
"In general, the construction of light water nuclear reactors is not prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions, nor does it violate the [interim agreement struck in 2013]," a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon in January.
Iranian officials said on Monday that its negotiators would not give up further ground as talks reach the final stage in June.
"These are the final days of the negotiations and both sides naturally try to see more of their demands met, and they may even make use of provocative remarks through their officials and unofficial people," Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, a spokesman for the Iranian government, was quoted as saying on Monday.
"But what matters is the issues that are written and not speeches, and we are striving to materialize the Iranian nation's rights in full in what is written," he said.