Russia to start nuclear fuel supply six months before Iran commissions nuclear power plant

Russia will start supplying nuclear fuel to Iran approximately six months before the Persian Gulf nation's atomic energy plant is commissioned late next year, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Monday, citing Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev. He said about 100 tons of fuel would be supplied. Rumyantsev and Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadehm, who is also the Iranian nuclear agency chief, signed a nuclear fuel agreement Sunday in Bushehr, Iran, site of the US$800 million (Ђ613.5 million) Russian-built plant. The agreement provides for Iran to return spent fuel to prevent any possibility Tehran would extract plutonium from it, enough of which could be used to make an atomic bomb, and it removes the last major obstacle to starting up Iran's first reactor. Experts have estimated the plant could produce enough plutonium for 30 rudimentary atomic bombs a year. The two officials refused to discuss the details of shipping the nuclear fuel to Iran and the spent fuel back to Russia, but insisted that the agreement respects all regulations concerning nuclear activities. Iranian efforts to enrich uranium so it can produce enough of its own fuel to generate power have been a bigger concern in the international community than buying fuel from abroad because the enrichment process can be taken further to be used for warheads. France, Britain and Germany are trying to secure an Iranian commitment to scrap enrichment plans in exchange for economic aid, technical support and backing for Tehran's efforts to join mainstream international organizations. Iran has suspended enrichment-related activities during the talks with the Europeans. Associated Press

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