Russia steps up nuclear plans in Iran as talks near deadline

Russians built the Bushehr nuclear power plant, shown here, and has vowed to build more reactors for Iran.

Story highlights

  • Russia will build up to 8 new reactors in Iran for "atomic energy," state media says
  • The announcement comes less than 2 weeks before the deadline in Iran's nuclear talks with the P5+1
  • It came a day after Israel warned "there is no moderation in Iran"
  • Washington vows Iran won't get a nuclear bomb
Russia has announced plans to build new nuclear reactors in Iran -- a move with international repercussions as a deadline looms.
The country will construct up to eight new reactors for the "peaceful use of atomic energy" in Iran, Russian state news agency Ria-Novosti reported Tuesday.
The announcement came less than two weeks before Iran's negotiations with Western powers over its nuclear activities are set to expire.
It also came a day after a fresh warning from Israel that the regime can't be trusted, and a fresh promise from Washington that Iran won't become a nuclear-armed state.
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Russia said its agreement with Iran includes a plan for the spent nuclear fuel to be "returned to Russia for reprocessing and storage."
Both Iran and Russia are under sanctions by the West. The announcement suggests Moscow is demonstrating that it has no plans to slow down its nuclear cooperation.
Iran leader: 'Annihilate' Israel
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benhamin Netanyahu spoke out against new statements from Iran's Supreme Leader calling for Israel to be "annihilated."
"There is no moderation in Iran. It is unrepentant, unreformed, it calls for Israel's eradication, it promotes international terrorism," Netanyahu said in a statement.
"This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power," the Prime Minister said. "And I call on the P5+1 countries -- don't rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb."
P5+1 refers to the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- and Germany.
Iran insists it only wants nuclear energy. And Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while calling for the elimination of Israel, said he opposes "a massacre of the Jewish people in this region."
It says the "proper way of eliminating Israel" is for "all the original people of Palestine including Muslims, Christians and Jews wherever they are, whether inside Palestine, in refugee camps in other countries or just anywhere else, take part in a public and organized referendum." The "Jewish immigrants who have been persuaded into emigration to Palestine do not have the right to take part," he said.
It's unclear who Khamenei thinks the "original people of Palestine" are, given that the region's history dates back thousands of years and includes countless waves of immigration and exile.
U.S.: Iran won't get a nuclear bomb
U.S. President Barack Obama recently sent a letter to Khamenei about cooperating in the fight against ISIS, the terror group that calls itself the Islamic State. Revelations about the letter have raised questions over whether Obama's stance on Iran is softening.
U.S. officials insist Washington is not coordinating military actions with Tehran -- and that there is no softening in its position on the country's nuclear program.
"We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, period," U.S. Vice President Joe Biden vowed Monday.
The deadline for the current round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 is November 24. Obama has left it unclear whether a deal will be struck by then.