Rosatom committed to Iranian plant project

09 May 2019

Rosatom's project to build nuclear power units at Bushehr is unaffected by current tensions surrounding US sanctions against Iran, its director general said yesterday.

Unit 1 at the Bushehr plant (Image: ASE)

In response to the question whether the latest developments around the nuclear deal with Iran will affect nuclear projects in that country, Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachov told RIA Novosti: "Rosatom has always met and is meeting all its obligations in all of its international projects."

Russian-built Bushehr 1 - the first nuclear power unit in the Middle East - was connected to the national grid on 3 September 2011. Bushehr units 2 and 3 are to be completed in 2024 and 2026, respectively. Rosatom subsidiary ASE, which is the general contractor for the Bushehr project, and Nuclear Power Production and Development Company of Iran signed an EPC turnkey contract for construction of the units at Bushehr in November 2014. The two VVER-1000 units will be built with Generation III+ technology, including the latest safety features, and have a combined capacity of 2100 MWe, ASE has said.

Russian-built Bushehr 1 was connected to the national grid on 3 September, 2011 and became the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East. The first foundation stone for units 2 and 3 of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was laid in a ceremony held at the construction site in southern Iran in September 2016.

The president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, said then that construction of the two new units will help Iran meet its energy needs, economise on its natural energy resources by avoiding the use of 22 million barrels of oil, and prevent the spread of 14 million tonnes of pollutants into the air. Iranian First Vice-President Ishaq Jahangiri added that Iran's right to build nuclear power plants was based upon the peaceful application of nuclear energy, as outlined in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The JCPOA was signed in July 2015 by Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA - also referred to as the P5+1 - plus the European Union) and implemented in January 2016. Under its terms, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment activities, eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and limit its stockpile of low enriched uranium over the next 15 years.

The agreement cleared the way for the lifting of nuclear-related economic sanctions imposed against Iran, but US President Donald Trump on 8 May last year announced the termination of the USA's participation in the JCPOA, directing the US administration to begin the process of re-imposing sanctions on Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address yesterday that unless world powers protect Iran's economy from US sanctions within 60 days, Iran would start enriching uranium beyond permitted limits. In response, the High Representative of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the UK said in a joint statement today that they remain “fully committed to the preservation and full implementation” of the JCPOA.

"We strongly urge Iran to continue to implement its commitments under the JCPOA in full as it has done until now and to refrain from any escalatory steps," they said. "We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons). In this respect, we recall the key role of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) monitoring and verification of the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments."

They added: "At the same time we recall our own firm commitments under the agreement including as regards sanctions-lifting for the benefit of the Iranian people. In this regard, we regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the United States following their withdrawal from the JCPOA."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News