Russia ready to build new reactors in Iran: official

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Russia is ready to build more nuclear reactors in Iran, its nuclear chief Sergei Kiriyenko said Thursday despite renewed fears that Tehran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons.

"We are looking into it, we have the orders, so we are working this proposal through, since building specifically nuclear reactors is not an issue of doubt in the international community," said Kiriyenko, who heads the Rosatom state corporation.

"It's not related to sensitive issues, so it is entirely possible," Kiriyenko told a government meeting, noting that Iran has expressed a desire to continue building nuclear reactors.

His comments came as Western governments renewed pressure on the Islamic republic over its nuclear programme after the UN's nuclear watchdog published an report pointing to evidence that Iran was making nuclear missile warheads.

The European Union is preparing a new round of sanctions against Iran after a UN atomic agency report hardened suspicions that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons, diplomats said Thursday.

France and Britain have called for "new powerful sanctions" unless Iran cooperates over its nuclear programme, but the diplomats said the measures would likely not be finalised in time for a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday.

Moscow has already blasted the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) report as politicised and taken a stand against move to impose additional Iran sanctions, something it branded as an attempt to change the regime in Tehran.

Russia has recently completed the construction of Iran's first nuclear plant in the southern port of Bushehr and has been Tehran's economic partner despite complying with UN sanctions and delaying a delivery of air-defence weapons.

The Bushehr plant began operation this year despite early objections from the United States, and is expected to reach full 1,000 megawatt capacity in March. Russia will also supply the fuel to Bushehr.

Moscow has attempted to play a mediator role in the past in the Iranian crisis, presenting in August a step-by-step plan to ease sanctions against Iran in exchange for greater transparency of its programme.

© 2011 AFP

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