FM: China may back sanctions on Iran

Teheran says it plans to build 20 more nuclear plants with Russian aid.

Former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said at a press conference Sunday that he believed there would be widespread support on the Security Council for imposing sanctions on Iran. Shalom also said that after talking with China's foreign minister recently he got the impression that China would not use its veto on the council to block the sanctions, despite a massive $75 billion long-term oil and gas development package the two countries have signed. China has only used its veto five times since becoming a Security Council member in 1971, and has only vetoed two resolutions since 1984. Iran allocated the equivalent of $215 million for the construction of what would be its second and third nuclear power plants, state radio reported Monday. The report did not give the location of the new reactors, but last month Iran said it planned to build new plants in the southern Iranian provinces of Khuzestan and Bushehr. Iran's first reactor has been built at Bushehr with Russian assistance and is due to come on stream this year. "Some 1,940 billion rials have been allocated for the building of two nuclear power plants in the draft budget bill for the next Iranian year," the head of Iran's Management and Planning Organization, Farhad Rahbar, told Tehran radio. The US dollar trades at about 9,000 rials on the open market, and the Iranian new year begins March 21. Iran plans to build 20 more nuclear plants, and Russia has offered to build some of them. Iran is under increasing international pressure over its nuclear program as it insists on controlling the whole fuel cycle - from mining uranium to enriching it to the point where it can be used in reactors. The West objects to Iran's enriching uranium as the process can be used to produce material for nuclear bombs. The United States accuses Iran of trying secretly to build nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. Britain, France and Germany, with US backing, have been trying to persuade Iran to import nuclear fuel, but Iran has rejected this.