Iran needs up to 15 nuclear plants, says foreign minister

Iran needs up to 15 nuclear plants to generate electricity, its foreign minister said today, underlining Tehran's determination to press ahead with a programme the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.

Manouchehr Mottaki, addressing a security conference in Bahrain, also cast further doubt on a UN-drafted nuclear fuel deal meant to allay international concern about the Islamic Republic's atomic ambitions.



"First I think we could just totally abandon the whole thing or we could propose something more moderate, a kind of middle way ... Iran has done that," he said.



Iran has sought key amendments to the proposed deal, under which it would transfer stocks of low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad and receive fuel in return for a medical research reactor. Tehran says it could produce the fuel itself if it is not able to obtain it from abroad.



The proposal to farm out most of Iran's LEU reserves is aimed at minimising the risk of the country refining the material to the 80-90 percent grade suitable for a weapon.



Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more of its gas and oil.



"We need 10 to 15 nuclear plants to generate electricity in our country," Mottaki said. Iran curently has one nuclear power plant, under construction by Russia.



US Defense Secretary Robert Gates yesterday said he expected the international community to impose significant additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.



Iranian officials have repeatedly shrugged off the impact of such punitive measures. "It would be better not to experience that again," Mottaki said, referring to possible new sanctions.



Earlier this month, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Iran needed 20 uranium enrichment plants to provide fuel for its nuclear power plants.



That announcement came less than a week after Tehran said it would build 10 more sites like its Natanz underground facility, a statement that further heightened tension with major powers involved in efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the row.



The 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month voted to rebuke Iran for building a second enrichment plant in secret, near the holy city of Qom.



Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants or, if enriched much further, provide material for bombs.



Separately, an Iranian news agency said four inspectors from the UN nuclear agency watchdog had arrived to inspect the newly-disclosed enrichment site near Qom.



It would be the fourth such visit to the site, ILNA news agency added, describing it as a regular inspection. It said such inspections should take place once a month, under an agreement between Iran and the Vienna-based agency.



Asked in Manama if Saudi Arabia or Turkey should join talks between Iran and the six major powers - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia - Mottaki said:



"There is no limit to the members of 5+1 (six powers). We believe other countries from the region could participate in the talks."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map