Iran announced on Saturday it has launched construction on a new nuclear power plant as the country continues to enrich uranium beyond 60 percent purity – one short, technical step away from weapons-grade threshold.
The 300-megawatt plant, known as Karun, is estimated to cost $2.5 billion and to go online before 2030, Mohammed Eslami, head of Iran’s civilian Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted by the Iranian state TV as saying.
He said the plant would be built indigenously using the national capacity and know-how as no other country was ready to cooperate in its construction due to the sanctions.
According to him, a French company had originally been awarded a contract to build the plant before 1979 revolution and the project was delayed on multiple occasions after its withdrawal.
Before the Iranian Revolution, Iran had signed a $2 billion contract with French company Framatome to build two pressurized water reactors, at Darkhovin, about 70 kilometers south of Ahvaz, Iran at the Karun river.
After the Revolution, France withdrew from the project and the engineering components of the plant were withheld in France.
In 1992, Iran signed an agreement with China to build two 300 MW reactors at the site, which were to be completed within ten years and would have been similar to Chashma Nuclear Power Plant in Pakistan which is built by China. But later on China withdrew from the project under United States pressure.
The plant is going to be Iran’s first indigenously designed and built nuclear power plant.
In 1976 novel of Paul Erdman, Crash of ’79, Darkhovin Nuclear Power Plant is mentioned to have been completed by France and Mohammed Reza Pahlavi the then Shah of Iran uses the plant with the help from Israel and Switzerland to manufacture a dozen salted bombs.