The Islamic republic says it needs 20 large-scale plants to meet its growing electricity needs over the next one-and-a-half decades. It currently operates a 1,000-megawat nuclear power plant at Bushehr, a coastal town on the Persian Gulf, and is planning to build a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in the southwestern town of Darkhovin.
A statement released by his organization said the sites were chosen in part for their resistance to earthquakes and military air strikes.
The U.S. and some of its allies fear that Iran could ultimately be able to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is geared merely toward peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and producing nuclear medical radioisotopes for medical use — not atomic bombs.
Iran also has a considerable stock of yellowcake uranium, a lightly processed substance it acquired from South Africa in the 1970s under the former U.S.-backed shah’s original nuclear program. It also has unspecified quantities of yellowcake obtained from China before U.N. sanctions came into effect.