RPT-ANALYSIS-Iran's nuclear energy plans draw scepticism

Fri Oct 8, 2010 1:53pm GMT

* Iran aims to have 20,000 MW in nuclear energy capacity

* Seeks foreign suppliers for atomic power plants

* West suspects nuclear programme is cover for bomb aims

(Repeats to delete superfluous word in paragraph 18)

By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Iran justifies its atomic activity with plans to set up a network of nuclear power plants, but Western analysts say a lack of indigenous resources and growing international isolation make those ambitions look far-fetched.

The issue of whether Iran can build as many as 20 reactors during the next two decades goes to the heart of an eight-year diplomatic row over the Islamic state's nuclear programme.

Iran insists it needs to enrich uranium -- material which can also be used to make weapons if refined much further -- to fuel future power stations designed to generate electricity and enable the country to export more of its gas and oil riches.

It says its first such facility, a Russian-built 1,000 megawatt (MW) reactor near the Gulf coast city of Bushehr, will start supplying energy in early 2011 after years of delays.   Continued...

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