DUBAI - Iran said on Tuesday it expected to sign a deal with Russia in late August on the building of two new 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors in the Islamic Republic, potentially boosting its case that it is refining uranium for civilian energy, not atom bombs.
Russia is one of six world powers negotiating with Iran on a long-term agreement to end a decade-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, which the country says is peaceful but the West fears may be aimed at developing a nuclear arms capability.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's atomic energy organization, will go to Moscow to finalize the reactor contract and construction may start early next year, according to the official news agency IRNA.
There was no immediate comment from Russia.
Iran has long argued that it needs to enrich uranium - which can have both civilian and military uses - to fuel a planned network of atomic power stations and that any contract on new reactors with Russia may help it back up its case.
But Russia - which built Iran's so far only nuclear reactor, at Bushehr on the country's Gulf coast - is providing the enriched fuel for that plant and may want to do that also for any future facilities it will build in Iran.
The world powers - also including the United States, France, Germany, Britain and China - want Iran to significantly scale back its enrichment of uranium to deny it any capability to quickly make bomb-grade fuels. Iran denies any such aims.