Iran Starts Construction of Four New Nuclear Power Plants

Iran’s state-run news service said the country has started construction on four new nuclear power units. The IRNA agency on Feb. 1 reported that the four reactors would have expected total generation capacity of about 5,000 MW.

Iran, whose nuclear program continues to be closely watched by the United Nations and others, has one operating nuclear power plant. That 1,000-MW Bushehr 1 facility, a pressurized water reactor built with help from Russia, has been online since 2013. Two more reactors, one already under construction, are planned at the Bushehr site. The news service said Iran also is building a smaller, 300-MW nuclear plant in the Khuzestan province, near the country’s western border with Iraq.

Officials in Iran have said the country wants to have 20,000 MW of nuclear power generation capacity online by 2041. A ceremony to mark the start of work on the new reactors in Hormozgan province was held Thursday and led by Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

The Bushehr nuclear power station, a 1,000-MW facility, came online in 2013. It is Iran’s only operating nuclear power plant. Source: Bushehr NPP

“By the year 2041, we should reach the generation capacity of 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity in the country, and the realization of this goal has been taken into consideration in the Makran coast of Hormozgan Province,” Eslami said. “It is hoped that it will be completed as planned and coordinated, and based on scheduled timing.”

Rafael Grossi, the U.N. Director General, in a recent report said Iran “in recent weeks had increased its production of highly enriched uranium, reversing a previous output reduction from mid-2023.” Officials with the International Atomic Energy Agency had said Iran has been enriching uranium at 60% purity, which is considered a short technical step away from the weapons-grade level of 90%.

Iranian officials have continued to say the country is not producing or trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

The IRNA news service quoted Eslami as saying the new nuclear plants could take as long as nine years to complete. The report said the new reactors are being built in the port town of Sirik on Iran’s east coast. Sirik is about 715 miles south of Tehran, Iran’s capital. IRNA reported that Nasser Shariflou, an Iranian nuclear power official who is in charge of the construction project, said the new plants would cost about $20 billion.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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