Iran and its nuclear ambitions re-emerge as an important topic this month, in the lead up to talks regarding economic sanctions. November 24 is the deadline by which Tehran must sign an agreement on its nuclear program with six states, including the U.S. and Russia.
This latest contract has no direct relation with those talks, however the Associated Press has claimed that it shows Moscow’s desire to cement ties with Tehran before sanctions are potentially relaxed, dependent on an agreement being reached on or before November 24.
Iran – Russia nuclear reactor deal: Up to 8 new reactors
The initial contract relates to the building of two new reactors at the Bushehr nuclear plant on the Persian Gulf. Nuclear chiefs also signed a protocol for the construction of two further reactors at the site, as well as four more at an as yet undecided location.
Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s Rosatom state corporation, and Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi were responsible for signing the deal, which Salehi said represents “a turning point in the development of relations between our countries.”
According to Rosatom, the International Atomic Energy Agency will monitor the construction of the new reactors. The necessary uranium fuel will be provided by Russia, and also taken back for reprocessing, in a move designed to prevent Iran from using the fuel to build atomic weapons.
Any agreement could lead to the relaxation of Western economic sanctions against Iran, on the condition that Tehran limits its enrichment of uranium to the extent that it would not be able to build nuclear weapons. So far, Iranian insistence that its desire for nuclear energy is aimed at meeting energy demands have not dampened Western suspicions that it is secretly attempting to build nuclear weapons.
The involvement of Russia in such a sensitive issue is sure to provide a further test of its diplomatic relationship with the U.S., at a time of great strain due to the Russian annexation of the Crimea and the war in Ukraine.