Russia has signed a contract to build two nuclear reactors in Iran and talks about further cooperation with the country criticised for its nuclear activities.
The two new reactors will be built at the site of the Bushehr plant – the first Russian-built nuclear power station in Iran – which was turned on earlier this year.
Russia hopes to further extend the deal to include an additional four reactors to follow in the upcoming years. The location of the additional units has not yet been specified.
"It's a turning point in the development of relations between our countries," said Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi after he had signed the deal together with Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom, during a ceremony in Moscow.
Rosatom said in a statement that the construction of the new reactors will be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Russia will supply uranium fuel and then take it back for reprocessing – a provision intended to prevent a possibility of Iran using the spent fuel to build atomic weapons.
The deal comes less than two weeks before the 24 November deadline for Tehran to reach an agreement on its nuclear programme with six world powers including Russia, the US, the UK, China, France and Germany.
The world powers seek commitment from Iran to limit its uranium enrichment to the level it would be impossible to use it to make nuclear weapons. In exchange for the guarantee, the world powers would agree to lift economic sanctions imposed on Iran.
The deal between Iran and Russia is seen as Moscow’s attempt to secure its position in the Iranian market ahead of the sanctions possibly being lifted.
Iran has previously dismissed Western concerns that it was secretly developing nuclear weapons, insisting that its nuclear activities are aimed at peaceful energy demands and medical needs.