The International Herald Tribune newspaper has defended its acceptance of an advertisement seeking bids for two large scale nuclear reactors in Iran. The ad appeared on April 20, including in the edition of the IHT distributed with the English version of the Haaretz daily. Inviting bidders to help in the construction of two pressurized light water reactors in the Bushehr province, the ad also ran in the Financial Times on April 25. This despite growing concern over Iran's nuclear proliferation program, particularly in the light of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated threats of destruction against Israel.
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"The Nuclear Power Production and Development Company of Iran (NPPD), an affiliate of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, invites sealed bids for contractors/companies for the Design, Supply of Equipment, Construction and Commissioning of two large-scale units (1000-16000 MWe each) with third generation nuclear power, pressurized Light Water Reactor in the Bushehr Province of Iran," the ad says.
Iran announced on April 15 that it is seeking bids for two additional reactors to be located near Bushehr for producing electricity. The announcement came as Iran and Russia remained at loggerheads over funding for the first plant in the same region.
David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said in response that bidding on light water reactors "violates the spirit" of Security Council Resolution 1737, which prohibits all states from the supply, sale or transfer of goods and technologies which could contribute to Iran's enrichment related processing or heavy water related activities of nuclear weapons delivery systems.
"It's a bad idea, and I don't think Iran should be sold reactors now," he said. "The spirit of the Security Council is to grandfather certain existing reactors, but not to allow new ones."
An IHT spokesman, asked whether accepting such an ad was appropriate, wrote: "We believe that advertising should be as free and open as the dictates of honesty and decency allow. In our view, advertising is an essential ingredient in the broad concept of a free press."
Asked about the ad running in a newspaper published in Israel, which has been threatened by Ahmadinejad, a Haaretz advertising manager was quoting as saying that the newspaper does not see the International Herald Tribune material most of the time until after it is printed, and that Haaretz would likely not refuse to publish material from the International Herald Tribune.