US sanctions may force civilian nuclear power plant offline – Iran

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dpa/GNA – US banking restrictions could force Iran to shut down operations at the Bushehr civilian nuclear power plant, a top energy officials said on Monday.

“Because of [US] sanctions, we have problems with bank transfers, and if no solution is found, we will even be forced to stop work at the first unit of Bushehr,” the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization [AEOI], Mahmoud Jafari, told the Isna news agency.

The Bushehr plant operates as part of a joint nuclear programme between Iran and Russia. It serves civilian purposes, supplying energy to the two southern provinces of Bushehr and Fars.

Moscow has consistently argued that Iran can use nuclear energy for civilian purposes but cannot have a nuclear weapons programme.

US sanctions have plunged oil-rich Iran into an acute economic crisis during the past two years, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s nuclear projects have been affected as the economy shrinks, AEOI chief Ali Akbar Salehi has said.

The Iran nuclear deal was negotiated in 2015 to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons, in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

US president Donald Trump, however, left the treaty in May 2018 and reimposed heavy sanctions on Iran. They included action against the financial sector which aimed to choke off Iranian revenues.

Tehran hopes that new US President Joe Biden will both return to the nuclear deal and lift sanctions. So far, however, there has been no change from the course set by the Trump administration.

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