Iran announces new uranium deposits discovery

Tehran announces plans to expand nuclear program, saying it has designated 16 sites for new nuclear plants.

Interior of Bushehr nuclear plant 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)
Interior of Bushehr nuclear plant 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)
Iran announced Saturday that it had designated 16 new sites for nuclear power plants and made a significant discovery of new uranium deposits, days before the Islamic Republic was scheduled to partake in talks with Western powers in Kazakhstan over its controversial nuclear program.
“Following months of efforts, 16 new sites for nuclear power plants have been designated in coastal areas of the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, [southwestern province of] Khuzestan and northwestern part of the country,” Press TV quoted the Atomic Energy Organization as saying.
The agency stated that the nuclear plants were being established for electricity generation only, and were in line with international standards.
The organization added that Iran has found significant new deposits of raw uranium to feed its nuclear program.
State news agency IRNA on Saturday said the deposits were found in "southern coastal areas" and had trebled the amount outlined in previous estimates.
There was no independent confirmation but with few uranium mines of its own, Western experts had previously thought that Iran may be close to exhausting its supply of raw uranium.
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Diplomats say the United States and its allies - the so called P5+1 - are set to offer Iran some relief from their sanctions at the talks in Kazakhstan on Tuesday if it agrees to curb its production of higher grade enriched uranium.
The West says the production demonstrates Tehran's intent to develop a nuclear weapons capability, an allegation the Islamic republic denies.
Ayalon: Iran using negotiating techniques common in the Persian bazaar
Former deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said Saturday that Iran's recent announcements of advancements in its nuclear program are part of a ploy by the Islamic Republic to enter Tuesday's nuclear talks in a position of strength.
"With the upcoming renewal of the dialogue between the P5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and Iran on neutralizing the Iranian nuclear program, it seems that Iran is trying to raise the bidding price and to enter negotiations from a position of strength," Ayalon said in a Facebook post. "With this in mind it is possible to understand the latest Iranian declarations on their increased enrichment abilities with advanced centrifuges and declarations on their discovery of uranium deposits in their territory."
Ayalon called Iran's declarations "a negotiating pattern which is common in the Persian bazaar." Ayalon accused the Islamic Republic of attempting to carry out "psychological warfare against the West."
The former deputy minister said that Iran's behavior "does not signal an Iranian readiness to compromise." He called for "a full embargo" on Iran and said that the military option should be portrayed as an increasingly more likely outcome.