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Iran Plans To Build More Nuclear Plants

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The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization has reiterated plans to expand the number of nuclear power plants, aiming to reach a production capacity of 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity.

Mohammad Eslami on Tuesday once again claimed that the project “seeks to align Iran with global standards in nuclear power production,” referring to boosting electricity generation using nuclear reactors. Iran already has a reactor, built by Russia, which contributes a small amount of electricity to the grid.

However, Tehran pursues a second track in its nuclear activities by enriching uranium to 60-percent purity, which could only have a weaponization purpose. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly warned that Iran is exceeding its enrichment limits.

The IAEA Director General, Rafael Grossi, in an interview with DW, said Iran’s rapid uranium enrichment is “weeks rather than months” from accumulating enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb, although he clarified that this does not imply an immediate capability to construct a nuclear weapon.

The project to build more reactors is mostly a plan at this stage, because Iran would need full foreign technical assistance, which even Russia might be reluctant to provide. Also, Iran is in a downward economic spiral and can hardly invest billions of dollars in such an expensive project, while it has vast natural gas reserves it can invest in and develop to boost power generation.

The IAEA has reported finding traces of enriched uranium at sites not declared by Iran, all while not allowing full access to the IAEA inspectors. Grossi stressed the importance of cooperation and access, suggesting that increased transparency is crucial for Iran if it wishes to be perceived as compliant with international nuclear norms.

“I have been telling my Iranian counterparts time and again… this activity raises eyebrows, and compounded with the fact that we are not getting the necessary degree of access and visibility that I believe should be necessary,” Grossi stated.

Amid Iran’s conflict with Israel which moved from a shadow war into the light this month, A senior IRGC commander warned last week that Tehran could change its nuclear policies if Israel continues to threaten to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, tacitly suggesting no cooperation with world bodies and building a nuclear bomb. It came after an alleged Israeli air strike targeting air defenses at Iran’s nuclear sites. 

“If the fake Zionist regime wants to use the threat of attacking nuclear sites to put pressure on Iran, it is possible and conceivable for the Islamic Republic to revise its nuclear doctrine and policies, and deviate from its past declared considerations,” said Ahmad Haghtalab, who is in charge of the security of Iran’s nuclear sites.

In February, Ali-Akbar Salehi, the former head of Iran’s nuclear agency, implied that the country has everything it needs for an A-bomb: “We have [crossed] all the thresholds of nuclear science and technology. Here’s an example: Imagine what a car needs; it needs a chassis, an engine, a steering wheel, a gearbox. You’re asking if we’ve made the gearbox, I say yes. Have we made the engine? Yes, but each one serves its own purpose.”

Earlier this month, an advisor to Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf hinted at Tehran’s military use of its nuclear program. “Iran has a nuclear program in addition to its missile program,” wrote Mehdi Mohammadi on X in what can be construed as a shrouded threat against Israel and its allies.

Meanwhile on the diplomatic stage, Tehran claims the enrichment is for medical and civilian purposes, although Grossi has said that no country in history has enriched to 60 percent without a goal to build nuclear weapons..