Tehran, Budapest Explore Nuclear Power Cooperation

Tehran, Budapest Explore Nuclear Power CooperationTehran, Budapest Explore Nuclear Power Cooperation

Iran has proposed a joint project with Hungary to design and develop a small nuclear reactor that could be sold across Asia and Africa, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said on Thursday.

Ali Akbar Salehi added that he envisaged a joint pilot project with Hungary to design a 25-megawatt reactor and then a reactor of up to 100 MW, a size he said would be marketable across Asia and Africa, Reuters reported.

He told a conference in Budapest that small reactors would be more affordable to poorer countries and require less cooling water, a critical consideration in Africa and Asia.

"One particular project that I suggested was to see if we can ... together design a small reactor of 25 MW," Salehi said. "It was received well and we hope that we can start this project, just on paper."

He added that the joint project "requires a lot of scientific work to come up with such a design, certainly a number of years of hard work. We want to see if we can do this."

Referring to the lifting of international sanctions on Iran's economy, Salehi added: "We intend to fully utilize all commercial and technical opportunities, including the pursuit of peaceful nuclear activities, emanating from this deal."

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban visited Tehran late last year.

Salehi said Iran will build two more Russian-designed large reactors, in addition to its current single reactor at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, which could take a decade.

Tehran-Moscow cooperation in the power plant industry stretches back to 1995, when Russian contractors took over Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant from the Germans.

"After these three reactors, we have made our decision that we would look into small reactors," he said. "That is our strategy for the future. That takes time (but) we need to develop these modular smaller reactors."

Hungary has a single nuclear reactor at its central city of Paks, currently operating four updated Soviet-made reactors, and Budapest has signed an agreement with Russia to double the plant's capacity, using Russian technology and financing.

------- Iran's Energy Role

Tehran's top nuclear official on Thursday told Andras Aradszki, Hungary's secretary of state for energy, that Iran is the Middle East's "energy hub", pointing to plans for oil and gas swap and exchange of electricity with neighboring countries.

Salehi also underlined Iran's rich hydrocarbon reserves and said the Islamic Republic is willing to expand cooperation with the Central European state.

The country has an estimated 158 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves, representing almost 10% of the world's reserves and around 33 trillion cubic meters of gas in place.

Aradszki, meanwhile, said Budapest is promoting renewable energies to provide impetus to a global initiative to alleviate pollution on the back of burning fossil fuels.

The Hungarian official said natural gas, an abundant source of energy in Iran and a cleaner and well-priced alternative to more polluting fuels, can be the cornerstone of energy cooperation between Tehran and Budapest.