China to finance Iran nuclear plants

China will assist Iran in modernizing the Arak heavy water reactor and help fund construction of new nuclear plants. In parallel, Iran is tightening up its air defense systems and insisting the IAEA not have access to military sites.

By: Lauren Calin, World Israel News
Behrouz Kamalvandi

Behrouz Kamalvandi, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. (AP/Juan Karita)

Iran will receive Chinese help to fund construction of new nuclear plants, the spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency told state radio Monday. Iran plans to build 12 nuclear power plants in the next 15 years, and its military is developing an expansive radar program to protect them from attack.

“The Chinese are ready to help us with building big power plants and they have even announced that they are ready to provide the needed finance,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).

He denied that China would replace Russia, noting that Russia has plans to build two more Iranian nuclear plants. The Bushehr nuclear plant was constructed by Russia.

AEOI chief Ali Akbar Salehi met with Chinese nuclear officials in Beijing last week. Salehi announced that China will help modernize the heavy water reactor at Arak and that the two countries were negotiating construction of two 100-MW nuclear power plants in Iran. He also indicated that Russia will begin construction on two nuclear plants by the end of the year.

Iran missile

Missile launched during Iranian military drill. (AP/Hadi Yazdani)

In parallel, the Iranian military is increasingly focused on air defense, possibly to shield its rapidly growing nuclear program. Iran unveiled two new radar systems on Tuesday, Nazir and Bina, in honor of Air Defense Day. The radar systems are designed to detect targets employing radar-evading technology and improve Iran’s ability to detect long-range or low-flying targets. Visiting Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told military commanders, “You should permanently enhance your preparedness and options for confronting different threats.”

While Iran develops and shields its nuclear program, Iranian officials continue to emphasize that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will not be given full access to military sites where suspected nuclear activity is taking place. “Iran does not plan to issue permission for the IAEA to inspect every site,” said Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan Wednesday in an interview with al-Mayadeen news network.