At a ceremony with Russian representatives in attendance, Iran has inaugurated the second and third units of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), delivered the keynote address at the Saturday event in the southern city of Bushehr.
The plant started operating in Iran in 2011 and reached full capacity the following year. Construction of the first unit was officially completed in April.
"We are opening a new page in the trend of our peaceful industrial nuclear activities," Salehi said.
"We are going to launch the construction of two new power plant units at the nuclear power plant of Bushehr."
"Thanks to the efforts of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the ground has been paved to further utilize the peaceful nuclear technology in light of the guidelines of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, and also within the framework of the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in line with the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” the Iranian official stated.
The construction of the units, Salehi said, would help Iran meet its energy needs, economize on natural energy resources by saving the country "22 million barrels of oil," and prevent the spread of "14 million tons of pollutants" into the air.
Salehi also hailed Iran as the first country in West Asia to have constructed and run a nuclear power plant.
Iran's First Vice President Ishaq Jahangiri was also present at the event. Also attending the inauguration was Sergey Vladilenovich Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation.
"Meeting energy needs is the prelude to economic development," said Jahangiri, who reminded that the country needed to produce 5,000 more megawatts of electricity each year so it could meet its energy demands.
The Iranian first vice president said effort must be invested toward preservation of fossil fuels for next generations.
Iranians, over the past years, Jahangiri said, have resisted unjust sanctions. "They have weathered very tough days in order to reclaim their legal right" to peaceful nuclear energy, he added.
On January 16, Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia – plus Germany started implementing a nuclear agreement they had clinched on July 14, 2015. Under the agreement, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for the termination of all nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic Republic.