A day after Iran announced plans to build 10 uranium enrichment plants, it is reported that Russia intends to start up a nuclear reactor in Iran in March next year.
Tehran’s announcement was seen as a show of defiance against the West, after the UN nuclear watchdog rebuked the Islamic Republic for building an enrichment plant in secret. The Russian energy minister is today visiting the new reactor at Bushehr. Iran hoped it would be opened this year, but diplomats say Moscow has been using the reactor as a lever in its relations with Tehran. The US has dropped its initial opposition to Russia’s involvement in the Bushehr project, now saying the plant removes any need for Iran to have its own enrichment programme. Meanwhile, the speaker of the Iranian parliament has said that his country sees little point in staying in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, although it is not clear if that is a serious threat to pull out. Over the weekend the Iranian parliament ordered the government to consider reducing its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.