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More Iranian Nuclear Power Reactors Expected in Earthquake Zone

A number of additional Iranian atomic energy reactors are expected to be constructed in a zone prone to seismic waves, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Thirty-seven people were killed and hundreds hurt on Tuesday in a 6.3-magnitude earthquake about 55 miles from the city of Bushehr. Iran's sole nuclear power plant is about 11 miles outside of the city.

"This earthquake had no impact on the Bushehr nuclear power plant installation," Fereidoun Abbasi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said in a state television report. "Not only was the power plant not producing electricity or sending it to the grid at the time, but even while operating the Bushehr power plant has been designed to withstand earthquakes of more than 8.0 on the Richter scale."

Another six reactors could be added to the Bushehr plant, according to Abbasi. Work on two is planned in the "near future," he added.

There are another 16 locations around the country eyed for possible use in nuclear energy production.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Federation of American Scientists said in a report issued last week that the Bushehr site lies at the meeting point of three tectonic plates. Tehran has failed to heed expressions of concern about the situation, according to the two U.S. think-tanks.

"I would certainly be very uneasy about having a large inventory of radioactivity anywhere where there was gong to be major seismic activity," said energy infrastructure specialist Walt Patterson of the United Kingdom's Chatham House think-tank.

The United States and allied nations suspect Iran of seeking a nuclear-weapon capability under the guise of a peaceful atomic program. Tehran denies the allegation.

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