Treatment of the interior part of the reactor frame of a VVER-1000, similar to the one at Bushehr power plant

Russia could build eight nuclear reactors for Iran

Russia plans to sign a deal this year to build two more nuclear reactors for Iran at its Bushehr power plant as part of a broader agreement on up to eight reactors.

It was not immediately clear how this might affect talks with Iran addressing disputed aspects of its nuclear programme, which ended last week with little progress and are due to resume in Vienna in June.

Western powers want any lasting agreement with Iran to put to rest suspicions that it could develop nuclear weapons-making ability through enrichment. Iran denies any such intent and has resisted demands for cuts in its uranium enrichment capacity, pointing to plans for a future network of nuclear power stations.

Russia, one of the six powers taking part in the talks, built Iran's only operating nuclear power reactor at Bushehr – a 915MW VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor made by OKB Gidropress.

"Russia and Iran may sign an intergovernmental agreement this year on building from four to eight nuclear reactors, and, under the deal, the contract for the construction of the first two reactors as additions to Bushehr," a source close to the negotiations told Reuters today.

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said earlier it was in talks with Iran on the potential construction of more reactors there but revealed no details. Rosatom officials could not immediately be reached for comment today.

Longstanding Western fears that the Bushehr project could yield spent fuel of use in nuclear weapons – something it denies it is seeking to do – receded after Iran promised to send the material back to Russia.

Moscow voted for four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran over its contested nuclear activity, but has sharply criticised additional measures imposed by the USA and EU, calling them a hindrance to diplomacy in search of a permanent settlement with Tehran.

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