Moscow to Help Tehran Build More Nuclear Reactors

Map of Iran with Stylized Radar Sweep and Radiation Symbol Background Image

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, August 13, 2013) Moscow, having helped Iran to build its atomic power station at Bushehr over the last two decades, is now negotiating with Tehran to construct one or more such stations, despite Israeli and Western concerns that Iran is using such facilities, despite its promises to the contrary, to produce nuclear weapons.

Yesterday, Russian news agencies reported that Moscow and Tehran plan to sign an agreement about the joint construction of another nuclear power plant in Iran. Given Iran’s electric power needs, Russian commentators commented, that plant will not be the last such facility Moscow will help build there (odnako.org/blogs/show_27278/).

According to these reports, both governments are committed to the exclusively peaceful use of such facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency rules, but the history of Russian involvement in Iranian nuclear power plant construction raises some serious questions about those commitments.

The Iranians began building its Bushehr atomic power station in the 1970s, a project the Russian government joined in the 1990s. That facility was completed in 2010, and according to many reports, it has been producing not just electric power but highly enriched nuclear fuel that could be used for the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

This latest move by Moscow is especially disturbing for three reasons. First, many Western capitals continue to insist that the Russian Federation is as committed as they are to blocking Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Second, several leading Moscow experts say that US-led sanctions against Iran are “not legitimate” (vestikavkaza.ru/news/Sanktsii-SSHA-protiv-Irana-davnym-davno-ne-legitimny-%E2%80%93-eksperty.html).

And third, as international experts have pointed out, Iran now has at least 100 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium, less than the 90 percent enriched energy source it would need for a bomb but far more than it had a few years ago, and a matter of concern both to Israel and the West (politcom.ru/16207.html).

Russian officials are certain to argue that their continuing involvement with Iran’s nuclear program will help keep Tehran from violating IAEA limitations, but Moscow’s continuing willingness to build more reactors in a country that has blocked inspections is disturbing because it means Iran will have a greater capacity to produce more enriched uranium.

Article also appeared at http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/08/window-on-eurasia-moscow-to-help-tehran.html