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Iranian state media: Construction begins on nuclear plant


CAIRO: Iran Iran’s state television announced on Saturday it had begun construction of a new nuclear power plant in the southwest of the country, amid tensions with the United States over sweeping sanctions imposed after Washington withdraw from the Islamic Republic’s nuclear agreement with world powers.
The announcement comes as Iran is rocked by nationwide protests challenging the theocratic government that began after the death of a young woman in police custody for allegedly violating the law. Muslim dress code. In a potentially related move, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency late Saturday quoted a top prosecutor as saying officials had “shut down” the ethical police force responsible. enforce the dress code. It does not give details.
The new 300-megawatt plant, called Karoon, will take eight years to build and cost about $2 billion, the country’s state radio and television agency reported. The plant will be located in Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province, near the western border with Iraq.
The inauguration of the construction site was attended by Mohammed Eslami, head of Iran’s Civil Atomic Energy Organization, who first announced plans to build Karoon in April.
Iran has a nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr that went into operation in 2011 with Russian help, in addition to several underground nuclear facilities.
The announcement of the Karoon construction comes less than two weeks after Iran said it had started producing uranium enriched to 60 percent purity at its underground Fordo nuclear facility. The move is seen as a significant addition to the country’s nuclear program.
Enrichment to 60% purity is a short technical step compared to 90% at the weapon level. Non-proliferation experts have warned in recent months that Iran now has enough uranium enriched to 60 percent to be recycled into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb.
The move was condemned by Germany, France and Britain, three Western European nations still in the Iran nuclear deal. Recent efforts to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which eased sanctions on Iran in return for curbing its nuclear program, have stalled.
Since September, Iran has been rocked by nationwide protests, marking one of the biggest challenges to the country’s theocracy since the tumultuous years following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Protests erupted when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody on September 16, three days after she was arrested by ethics police for violating the strict Communist dress code. Islamic peace for women. The Iranian government insists Amini was not mistreated, but her family said her body had bruises and other signs of beatings after she was detained.
In a statement released by state news agency IRNA on Saturday, the country’s national security council announced that about 200 people had been killed in the protests, the agency’s first official information. This is about casualties. Last week, Iranian General Amir Ali Hajizadeh put the death toll at more than 300.
The contradictory numbers are lower than those reported by Human Rights Activists in Iran, a US-based organization that has been closely monitoring the protest since the outbreak. In its most recent update, the group said that 469 people were killed and another 18,210 detained during the protests and the subsequent violent crackdown by security forces.
Iranian state media also reported on Saturday that the family home of Elnaz Rekabi, an Iranian female mountaineer who competed abroad with her hair down, had been destroyed. Iran’s official judicial news agency, Mizan, said her brother’s house was destroyed due to “illegal construction and use of land” and that demolition had taken place months before. Rekabi competition. Anti-government activists say it was a deliberate destruction.
Rekabi became a symbol of the anti-government movement in October after participating in a climbing competition in South Korea without a headscarf required for female athletes from the Islamic Republic. In an Instagram post the next day, Rekabi described her failure to wear the hijab as “unintentional”, however it remains unclear whether she wrote that post or her condition at the time. that point.
Since September, there have been reports of a decrease in the number of moral police across Iranian cities. The group was founded in 2005 with the task of arresting those who violate the country’s Muslim dress code.
In a report published late Saturday by ISNA, Iran’s prosecutor general, Mohamed Jafar Montazerisaid the ethics police force had been “shut down”. He did not provide further details on the status of the force, or whether the shutdown would be widespread and permanent.
Montazeri added: “The judiciary continues to monitor behavior at the community level.
Separately, the US Navy on Saturday said it intercepted a fishing boat in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday that was trying to smuggle 50 tons of ammunition and a key component for missiles from Iran to Yemen. .
Experts have accused the Iranian government of repeatedly conducting illegal weapons smuggling activities to supply the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The shipments included rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and rockets. Last month, the US seized 70 tons of rocket fuel components hidden in bags of fertilizer on a ship traveling from Iran to Yemen.
Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet, said in a statement: “This critical intercept (Thursday) clearly shows that the aid delivery operation is lethal. Iran’s illegal trade and destabilizing behavior continues.”
There was no immediate comment from Iran about the arrest.
Iran has been the main supporter of the Houthis since rebel forces swept down from Yemen’s northern mountains in 2014 and seized the capital Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognized government into exile. The following year, a Saudi-led coalition armed with US weapons and intelligence intervened to try to restore power to the internationally recognized government. Since 2014, the United Nation implemented an arms embargo banning the transfer of weapons to the Houthis.
The United States unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA – in 2018, under President Donald Trump. It re-imposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to begin withdrawing from the terms of the deal. Iran has long denied ever seeking a nuclear weapon, insisting its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

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