Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sunday that the country needs more nuclear power to cut its carbon dioxide emissions, which are blamed for global warming.
This announcement comes just after the country struck a deal to curb their nuclear ambitions in order to ease international sanctions.
Salehi told Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency that he sent a letter to President Hassan Rouhani asking for funds to build new nuclear power plants, adding that Iran’s parliament has already passed legislation ordering the construction of several power plants to produce 20,000 megawatts of power. Salehi also said that Iran should produce 150 tons of nuclear fuel to supply five nuclear power plants.
“The government is obliged to fulfill its obligations required by the parliament. We should draw up a plan for establishment of 20 power plants with capacity of 1,000 megawatts each,” Salehi told IRNA.
Iran is one of the world’s largest petroleum producing nations, sitting on 157 billion barrels of proven petroleum reserves and nearly 34 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves. So, is Iran’s concern about global warming and cutting its oil dependence believable?
“If the Iranians really cared about the environment, they wouldn’t have built the Bushehr nuclear reactor in an earthquake zone, and they wouldn’t have transformed Tehran into one of the world’s most polluted cities,” former Pentagon official Michael Rubin told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Iran only has one nuclear plant in operation near the southern port of Bushehr, reports the Associated Press. That plant produces 1,000 megawatts of electricity and was brought online with help from Russia.
“Frankly, the Iranians seem just to be having some fun at the American expense, gently mocking the Obama administration and then standing back, amazed that Obama doesn’t realized he’s being mocked,” said Rubin, who is now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
The Islamic Republic has stirred up conflict with the West due to its leadership’s harsh rhetoric about Israel, state sponsorship of terrorism and for allegedly using its civilian nuclear power program as a guise to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran recently agreed with the U.S. and its allies to freeze part of its nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions imposed by the international community. Iran agreed to cap its uranium enrichment level at 5 percent — far below the level required to make nuclear warheads, but enough to still be used to generate power.
The country also told Western powers it would “neutralize” its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium by diluting its strength or using it for research reactors, which produce isotopes for medical uses and other civilian needs.
Salehi told IRNA that the country is talking with Russia and other countries to build four more nuclear plants to produce 5,000 megawatts of power in the coming years.
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