Top Iranian nuclear official to meet with Russian atomic chief in Moscow

Iran's top nuclear official was scheduled to meet with Russia's atomic energy chief in Moscow on Monday, and Tehran complained that Moscow was dragging its heels over supplying nuclear fuel for a controversial Russian-built nuclear plant.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh's talks with Federal Nuclear Agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko come amid continuing international efforts to persuade Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. Senior diplomats from Russia, the United States, Britain, France, Germany and China met Friday to discuss what sanctions should be imposed on Tehran if it refuses the demand.

The United States and other Western nations have watched with concern as Russia pushes forward toward completion of its US$800 million plant at Bushehr. Kiriyenko last week was quoted as saying that plant would start operations in September 2007.

Washington fears the plant which had been due to go online this year could be used by Iran to produce fissionable material for weapons.

Moscow says it has worked out a deal with Iran for all the plant's spent fuel to be sent to Russia, eliminating the possibility that Iran could reprocess it for weapons. Iran, however, has resisted Russia's proposal to conduct all of Iran's uranium enrichment on Russian soil.

Ahead of Aghazadeh's meetings in Moscow, Iran's deputy nuclear chief Mohammad Saeedi complained that Russia had not given a firm timetable for supplying the nuclear fuel for Bushehr, reports AP.

"Russia in the past gave written commitments about the timetable for delivering the fuel. However, it has not realized this yet," Saeedi was quoted as saying by Iranian state television.

"During this visit, barriers in the way of quick completion of the plant will be reviewed," said Saeedi, who was accompanying Aghazadeh on his visit to Moscow.