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Iran announces the start of construction of a new nuclear reactor

6 February 2024

The Iranian authorities announced the start of construction work on a new nuclear research reactor in Ispahan, in the center of Iran, a few days after they presented the project of a nuclear power plant in the south of the country, reports AFP, according to Agerpres.

“Concrete pouring for the reactor foundation at the Ispahan site has started today,” said Mohammad Eslami, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA), quoted by the official Irna news agency on Monday.

The Ispahan Nuclear Research Center already has three reactors. The new 10-megawatt research reactor will serve as a powerful source of neutrons intended especially for tests with nuclear fuels and materials, as well as the production of industrial and radiopharmaceutical radioisotopes, according to the Irna agency.

Iran is targeted by severe economic sanctions imposed by the US under Donald Trump, who unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the international nuclear agreement concluded three years ago and which provided for limitations on the Iranian nuclear program.

In response, Tehran began to violate the commitments dictated by the so-called JCPOA pact, but then during the last year it slowed down the production rate of enriched uranium to 60%, in the context in which the informal talks with the USA had resumed. But Iran accelerated the pace of production again at the end of 2023.

Tehran has always maintained that its nuclear activities are peaceful and has denied that it wants to build an atomic bomb.

Iran has restricted “in an unprecedented manner” its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is “taken hostage”, its director general Rafael Grossi accused in January.

On Thursday, the head of the IAEA announced the construction of a nuclear power plant complex at Sirik, in the Strait of Hormuz, consisting of four individual plants with a combined production capacity of 5,000 megawatts.

“We need to reach a production capacity of 20,000 megawatts of nuclear energy in the country” by 2041, Eslami said during a visit to the region with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Only five countries in the world exceed this capacity, namely the USA, France, China, Russia and South Korea.

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