Iran on Saturday began construction of a new nuclear power plant in the country's southwestern region. Iran's state TV gave this news. The construction comes amid tensions created by sweeping sanctions imposed on Iran after the US pulled out of the Islamic republic's nuclear deal with world powers. The announcement comes at a time when Iran has been rocked by anti-government protests across the country following the death of a young woman in police custody.
The country's state television and radio agency reported that the new 300 MW plant, named Karoon, would take eight years to build and cost about US$2 billion. It said the plant would be located in Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province near its western border with Iraq. The groundbreaking ceremony for the plant was attended by the head of Iran's civilian Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Islami, who first unveiled construction plans for Karoun in April.
Iran has a nuclear power plant at the southern port of Bushehr and several underground nuclear facilities. The announcement of Karoon's construction comes less than two weeks after Iran said it had begun producing uranium enriched to 60 percent purity at the country's underground Fordo nuclear facility. The move is being seen as a significant growth in the country's nuclear program.