Rosatom Signs a Large-Scale Nuclear Reactor Deal with Iran during Final Stages of P5+1 Negotiations

On November 11, 2014, the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation signed an agreement with the government of Iran to construct two new VVER pressurized water reactors at Bushehr with the option to construct six more at four different locations.  Construction and delivery of the equipment is to be done, ostensibly, under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guarantees and the fuel for all blocks is to be provided and disposed of by Rosatom.  Furthermore, the Russian company will also arrange the training of Iranian specialists in the operation, servicing and corresponding engineering support for the new plants, as well as in the field of regulation of nuclear and radiation safety.  This agreement comes just weeks before the November 24 deadline for Iran to sign an agreement with the P5+1 on the future of its nuclear program.

The reaffirmation by Tehran and Moscow to expand substantially Russia’s nuclear reactor footprint in Iran a mere two weeks prior to the November 24 deadline for reaching an interim agreement is quite provocative at such a delicate stage of the negotiations.  It inserts Russia directly into the political destiny of a longer term agreement and not in a particularly constructive way.  Finally, the Kremlin’s strategic use of Rosatom in the context of the Iranian nuclear crisis could damage the company’s commercial credibility in the European and global nuclear energy markets.