May 31, 2006

Iran to build two more nuclear plants

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran plans to build two 1,000 megawatt
nuclear reactors and will solicit bids within the next two
months, a senior official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The tender will be open to domestic and international

The decision to build two more nuclear plants comes amid
mounting Western pressure on the Islamic state to suspend its
uranium enrichment work.

"We want to build two nuclear power plants through an
international tender," said Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of
Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

"Iranian and international companies can participate in the
tender, which will be within the next two months," he added.

He did not say where the reactors would be located.

In recent years, Iran has built plants generating 12,500
megawatts of electricity, and its first 1,000 MW nuclear power
plant, being built with Russian help in the southern port of
Bushehr, will come on stream in late 2007.

Washington and its allies fear Iran could use even limited
enrichment facilities to master the technology to produce
bomb-grade fuel. But Tehran insists its nuclear program is only
to generate electricity to satisfy booming demand.

Russia has said it is interested in bidding for more
nuclear work in Iran. Tehran has repeatedly said that Russia
would have an advantage over other countries for the
construction of Iran's new nuclear reactors.

The five permanent U.N. Security Council powers and Germany
are planning to meet in Vienna on Thursday to try to finalize a
package of incentives for Iran to halt uranium enrichment along
with penalties if it keeps defying international pressure.

Iran insists it has the right to process the uranium it
mines in its central deserts for use in these power and Tehran
has so far dismissed the initiative, saying no incentives will
convince it to give up what it calls its national right.