ENERGY INFORMATION AGENCY -- September 2004 -- Iran, Commercial Nuclear Industry of


As of September 1, 2004, there are no commercial nuclear power plants operating in Iran. Two reactors are scheduled to come on line and there have been discussions on building more.

“Currently, Iran has several small nuclear research reactors, in addition to a large-scale nuclear power plant under construction at the southern town of Bushehr. Iran claims that its nuclear power is for peaceful purposes and that it will help free up oil and natural gas resources for export, thus generating additional hard-currency revenues. The country has stated its aim of having 7,000 MW of nuclear power online by 2020, accounting for 10% of the country's power generation capacity at that point.

“In September 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave Iran until October 31 to provide guarantees that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes and to open the country to snap inspections by the IAEA. On October 6, 2003, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Iran would withdraw from the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NNPT) if Western pressure continued. On October 30, IAEA head Mohammed el-Baradei declared that Iran's report on its nuclear activities appeared to be "comprehensive," but that he would still have a lot of questions. On November 14, Iran's Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharazzi, said that his country was committed to "complete transparency," and added that the IAEA report made clear that Iran's nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. On December 18, Iran signed a protocol to the NNPT that will allow the IAEA to have more comprehensive access to sites in the country. It is not known when Iran will officially ratify the protocol. In mid-March 2004, Iran announced that it was barring nuclear inspectors from entering the country for an indefinite period of time after the IAEA passed a resolution rebuking Iran for failure to fully disclose the details of its past nuclear activity. However, Iran shortly reversed course and allowed IAEA inspectors to continue their work.

“In December 2002, Iran and Russia signed a protocol for peaceful cooperation in nuclear power. Russia has been assisting Iran on the Bushehr nuclear power facility, work on which first began in 1974 by West Germany, but was halted (80% complete) following the 1978/1979 revolution. Significant amounts of money, possibly billions of dollars, had been spent on Bushehr to that point. Following the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), during which time Bushehr was bombed six times and seriously damaged, progress on the plant resumed when Russia signed an $800 million contract in 1995. The contract with Russia called for completion of a 1,000-MW, pressurized-light-water reactor, as well as the possible supply of two modern VVER-440 units. Since then, work has proceeded slowly, although reports in early March 2003 indicated that Bushehr was 70% complete, and was expected to come online as early as March 2004. Subsequently, the completion date for Bushehr-1 was pushed off by a year -- supposedly due to technical difficulties -- and is now scheduled to come online in 2005. In early September 2003, a Russian Atomic Energy Ministry spokesman said that it would cost "$1.2-$1.3 billion to complete the construction" of Bushehr's first unit. In November 2003, Russia proposed that it build a "totally new" second nuclear unit at Bushehr, instead of completing the one started in the late 1970s.

“Although Iran is a signatory to the NNPT and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes (i.e., power generation), the United States strongly opposes the Bushehr project and has in the past provided Russia with information pointing to the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. In May 2002, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham met with Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's nuclear agency, and discussed this issue, with Rumyantsev stating the Russian position that Bushehr "is not a source of proliferation of nuclear material." In late March 2003, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, John Bolton, said, "In the aftermath of Iraq, dealing with the Iranian nuclear weapons program will be of equal importance as dealing with the North Korean nuclear weapons program." In April 2003, Russia and Iran reached a deal on returning spent nuclear fuel rods from Bushehr back to Russia for reprocessing. Russia hopes to earn as much as $40 million per year supplying Iran with nuclear fuel and with shipping out spent fuel. The two countries also have discussed construction of additional nuclear power plants in Iran.

“In February 2003, Iran announced that it had begun mining uranium deposits at Saghand near the central Iranian city of Yazd, and was constructing a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, located 200 miles southeast of Tehran. In March 2003, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors examined Natanz and described it as "impressive." Other news reports indicated that Natanz was "extremely advanced" and involved "hundreds" of gas centrifuges for producing enriched uranium. Some analysts believe that Yazd and Natanz are part of an Iranian effort to attain self-sufficiency in the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Besides Natanz, the IAEA also has expressed interest in inspecting a heavy-water plant at Arak.”

· Reactors in Iran: This table, based mainly on data from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, provides the following information on the country's reactors: names, types, net capacity, date construction began, date of grid connection, date that commercial operation began, and the operating utility, agency, or company.

· Energy industries and markets in Iran: In addition to the information excerpted in the summary, the Country Analysis Brief, summarizes the key trends for all of the major fuels.




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