Monday, July 19, 2004

Israel News : Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Israel News : Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

"Russia, Iran discuss Bushehr power plant
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

The head of Russia's nuclear energy program met with the Iranian ambassador Monday to discuss supplying nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr atomic power plant, the Interfax news agency reported.

The report said Ambassador Gholam Reza Shafei pledged that Iran would return spent nuclear fuel to Russia, but said no final agreements have been signed. Sending the spent fuel out of the country would ensure that Iran could not reprocess it into material that could be used in nuclear weapons.

Shafei and Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, also discussed construction of the Bushehr plant, which is expected to go into operation next year, Interfax said.

Russia is finishing up work on the US$800 million reactor in southern Iran, which has drawn years of protests from the United States. Washington fears that plant can be used to help Iran build nuclear weapons. Iran insists it is only for peaceful energy needs.

Last month, Mohammad ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that Russia's help in constructing the Bushehr plant shouldn't spark international concern.

Tehran has faced growing international pressure to open its nuclear program to closer international scrutiny. In December, it signed an agreement with the IAEA, allowing it full access to Iranian nuclear facilities to ensure they aren't being used to develop weapons."

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