Construction of the second unit at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran is ahead of schedule, says deputy president and head of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) Ali Akbar Salehi.
Excavation work at the site of Bushehr 2 in southern Iran started last October.
“Russia has assisted Iran in completing the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the south of the country and has taken part in the ongoing construction of Bushehr 2,” Salehi said.
The former foreign minister said the Bushehr 2 project is ahead of schedule and will hopefully be commissioned within the next six years.
Applauding Russia’s nuclear cooperation with Iran, Salehi maintained that the Russians have always met their commitments. He added that “with the Russians’ assistance” Iran has achieved the capability for enriching “other elements,” including xenon and tellurium.
Salehi also insisted the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), or Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, has not impacted Iran’s “peaceful nuclear activities,” adding that the country's nuclear projects "are progressing well and there is no problem."
“Despite the U.S. exit from JCPOA, there is no problem neither in the field of exploration, research and development nor in the construction of new [power] plants and activities such as production of drugs or hospital construction,” he said.
Salehi stressed that a large number of Iran’s nuclear projects are either “self-dependent” or accomplished with the assistance of a country like Russia.
Iran’s nuclear chief also said Iran is now among the few countries that can produce stable isotopes.
Iran has always maintained that it is seeking to reduce its dependence on oil and gas with 20 nuclear reactors planned over the coming years, including nine being built with the assistance of Russian firms.
“Operations to build two new nuclear power (units) in Bushehr will take 10 years for the power (units) to be completed,” state-run news agency IRNA had cited Salehi as saying in September 2016.
The new reactors would cost an estimated $10 billion and lead to a saving of 22 million barrels of oil per year, IRNA reported.
Russia constructed the existing 1,000-megawatt reactor in Bushehr on the Persian Gulf coast that came online in 2013.
In November 2014, Iran signed a cooperation contract with Russian Rosatom and its subdivisions to help build the two new reactors on the same site, along with plans to eventually construct nine nuclear reactors across the country. Two of these may also come up at Bushehr, taking the total number of reactors at the site to five units.