Iran Celebrates Nuke Pursuit

Announces new reactors during ‘National Day of Nuclear Technology’

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at a ceremony marking Iran's National Day of Nuclear Technology / AP
April 9, 2013

Russia has agreed to help Iran construct two new nuclear reactors in the coming year Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Tuesday, its "National Day of Nuclear Technology."

Russia will help Iran build "at least two 1,000-[megawatt nuclear] reactors," according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

Each 1,000-megawatt reactor is capable of producing "enough plutonium each year for 40 nuclear bombs," according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The deal was announced on the same day that a 6.3 magnitude earthquake killed some 30 people in southwest Iran, accordingto the BBC. The quake hit 60 miles south of Iran’s nuclear power plant in Bushehr.

Iran experts said a nuclear reactor in an area rife with seismic activity could spell catastrophe for the region.

"Russian nuclear technology wedded to an earthquake-prone region is a reason for concern even if Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons," said Emanuele Ottolenghi, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Ahmadinejad announced the upcoming joint reactor project during a ceremony in Tehran.

The outgoing Iranian president "referred to Iran's plans to further develop its nuclear industry and said the construction will start in the current Iranian year (which began on March 21) ‘with the cooperation of the foreign side,’" Fars reported.

"There is desirable cooperation between Iranian and Russian experts, which can continue in future," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.

The announcement comes as Western attempts to negotiate with Iran over its rogue nuclear enrichment program ended in failure last week.

Additionally, Iran announced the opening of two new uranium-processing plants on Monday in a bid to produce yellowcake, a concentrated form of uranium that is the key element in a nuclear weapon.

Ahmadinejad also ordered the country’s Atomic Energy Organization on Tuesday to "accelerate" its nuclear activities.

"I want you to speed up activities," Ahmadinejad said, according to Fars.

Iran’s parliament also issued an edict declaring its support for Tehran’s ramped up nuclear activities.

"Iranian parliamentarians in a statement on Tuesday reiterated full support for Tehran's peaceful nuclear activities and said that the parliament will not give up even an iota of the country's nuclear rights under enemies' pressures," Fars reported.

The statement emphasized that Iran’s nuclear program was being used for "peaceful" purposes.

"We, as proud deputies of the Iranian parliament, fully support the country's peaceful nuclear activities and express our gratitude and appreciation for nuclear technology, experts, scientists, and officials for the efforts they have made to make an effective use of the nuclear technology to meet the country's various needs in the fields of energy, health, agriculture, industry etc.," the statement said, according to Fars.

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesperson did not immediately respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment on Iran’s increased nuclear activities.