11/12/2014, 00.00
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Tehran and Moscow agree to the construction of new reactors at the Bushehr power plant

The deal involves the construction of two new reactors at the plant, which is located in southwestern Iran, with the option of six more in the future. Moscow will provide the fuel and dispose of it once it is spent. Deputy Russian foreign minister is "reasonably optimistic" over a deal with Iran by 24 November. Israel and US Republicans remain critical.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Russia and Iran have agreed to the construction of new nuclear reactors in Bushehr, in southwestern Iran, almost two weeks before a deadline for a deal to curb Iran's nuclear activity.

The deal agreed by Russia and Iran envisages the construction of two reactors, with scope for a further six, four of which at a separate location.

So far, the Russian-Iranian agreement has not elicited any reactions from world powers. At the same time, diplomatic efforts, including by Moscow, continue in order to convince the Iranian government to curb its nuclear ambitions and limit its nuclear programme to civilian use of nuclear energy.

The final round of talks is scheduled for next week but a final and lasting solution is still uncertain. Nevertheless, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he was "reasonably optimistic" that world powers could reach a nuclear deal with Iran despite big gaps remaining.

"We are not working on plan B, that's for sure," Ryabkov said. However, "If by whatever reason, by whatever development, we are not there, I think we will have time on the evening of the 23rd to develop an alternative."

The 5+1 group (United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) is trying to persuade Iran to reduce its uranium enrichment to a level below what is required to build atomic weapons. In exchange, they would lift sanctions against Tehran.

Tehran, for its part, plans to speed up its plans to build nuclear power plants whose operation would be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, hailed the accord to build two new reactors as "a turning point in the relations between our countries". Russia not only will provide the fuel but will also take it back once it is spent, for processing and storage.

Iran plans to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear energy with fuel from Russia. However, opponents remain critical of Iran's nuclear programme, considering it just a cover for producing nuclear weapons.

Tehran has sought to allay fears and suspicions, insisting that uranium enrichment is meant only to provide fuel for the production of electricity and use in the field of medicine.

The Israeli government and hawks in the Republican Party in the US Senate continue to oppose any deal with Iran.

Speaking on the issue recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for new and stricter sanctions against Iran, unless there is an overall agreement by 24 November.

While refuting the once entertained idea of a military attack against Iran, the Israeli government remains intransigent towards Iran, whose nuclear programme it considers a vital threat to its population.

Members of the Republican Party in Congress resumed their battle against a nuclear deal with Iran, focusing again on a policy of sanctions.

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