Iran announces uranium discovery, new sites for nuclear power stations

Iran said it has found significant new deposits of raw uranium to feed its nuclear programme and identified sites for 16 more nuclear power stations, just days before talks with Western powers over its disputed atomic programme.

The Iran Atomic Energy Organisation report cited by state news agency IRNA on Saturday said the deposits were found in "southern coastal areas" and had trebled the amount outlined in previous estimates.

There was no independent confirmation but with few uranium mines of its own, Western experts had previously thought that Iran may be close to exhausting its supply of raw uranium.

Diplomats say the United States and its allies — the so-called P5+1 — are set to offer Iran some relief from their sanctions at the talks in Kazakhstan on Tuesday if it agrees to curb its production of higher-grade, enriched uranium.

In another announcement that is likely to concern the West, the report also said 16 sites had been identified for the construction of nuclear power stations.

It did not specify the exact locations but said they included coastal areas of the Gulf, Sea of Oman, Khuzestan province and coastal areas of the Caspian Sea.

State television reported that the sites were chosen in part for their resistance to earthquakes and military air strikes.

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