Iran’s state TV reported Sunday that construction has begun on a second nuclear power reactor at its Bushehr plant amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.
Authorities began pouring concrete for the base of the reactor on Sunday in the presence of journalists in Bushehr, some 700 kilometers (440 miles) south of Iran’s capital, Tehran.
Bushehr relies on 4.5% enriched uranium, which Iran is producing in violation of its 2015 nuclear deal. That violation and others come after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord over a year ago.
Bushehr’s first reactor came online in 2011 with the help of Russia. This new reactor similarly will be built with Russian help.
Iran said Saturday it is now enriching uranium to five percent, after a series of steps back from its commitments under the nuclear pact. The deal set a 3.67 percent limit for uranium enrichment but Iran announced it would no longer respect it.
“Based on our needs and what we have been ordered, we are currently producing five percent,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told a press conference.