Iran, Russia Resume Talks on Nuclear Power Plant Amid U.S. Sanctions

The Iranian energy minister Reza Ardakanian has said that his country continued talks with Russia to build a new nuclear power plant capable of generating up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity, Reuters reported.

The Islamic Republic, which is back under heavy U.S. economic sanctions since early this month, currently has the capacity to produce 1,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity, according to state media. Iran already runs one Russian-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr, which was its first. Russia and Iran signed a deal in 2014 to build up to eight more reactors in the country.

According to the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, the second nuclear power plant at Bushehr will be put into operation within the next six years. Right after that, the third nuclear power plant will be put into operation.

Salehi added that Iran successfully enriches uranium with the help of Russia.

In recent years, Russia and Iran signed a number of trade and investment deals to help boost their economies amid a barrage of Western sanctions aimed at both Moscow and Tehran.

In addition, Russia sold to Iran its S-300 anti-aircraft missile system that has long worried U.S. and Israeli military officials because it gives the Islamic Republic a “generational improvement in capabilities.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in 2015 lifting a ban on the delivery of the S-300 to Iran, explaining that his decision was motivated by Iran’s drive to find a solution in talks over its nuclear program.

Despite the lifting of the ban, the sale had been repeatedly delayed due to Western pressure given that UN nuclear sanctions ban the delivery to Iran. Russia finally delivered the system to Iran in 2016 and the Pentagon said earlier this year the system has been deployed by the Islamic Republic.