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Monday, December 1, 2008

Iran proposes joint nuclear plants with Gulf states

Iran on Sunday proposed developing nuclear power plants jointly with neighbouring Arab states in the Gulf, amid international pressure on Tehran to halt its sensitive atomic work.

"I suggest that countries in the region put on their agenda the creation of a consortium to build and develop light-water nuclear plants," said Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's atomic energy organisation.

"Iran is ready to present a comprehensive proposal if the Persian Gulf countries agree to it in principal," he told an energy conference in Tehran.

However, he did not give any specifics about the proposal, or its feasibility.

Iran has long defied UN demands to halt uranium enrichment and it is under sanctions targetting individuals and institutions involved in its nuclear programme.

The light-water reactor market is dominated by Western countries and Russia, which is currently building Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr on the Gulf.

However, completion of the plant has been repeatedly delayed.

Officials say Iran's first home-built nuclear plant using domestic technology is at the basic design stage and is scheduled to come on line in around nine years.

The Islamic republic is also building a 40-megawatt heavy water research reactor in Arak, in central Iran.

Uranium enrichment lies at the centre of fears about Iran's nuclear programme as the process can be used to make the fissile core of an atom bomb.

Iran, OPEC's second largest oil exporter, insists it only wants to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel to meet the growing energy demands of its population.

Tehran has not responded to a proposal by world powers offering Iran incentives including help with peaceful nuclear technology and a light water reactor in return for suspending enrichment.

(Source: AFP)

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