Iran, Russia in nuclear power deal

An Iranian official has said a key agreement with Russia on the return of spent nuclear fuel will be signed by the end of the month.

    The Russian pact will give Iran its first nuclear power plant

    The deal will pave the way for Iran's first nuclear power plant.

    Asadollah Sabouri, a deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, was quoted by state television as saying that the agreement would allow Russia to provide Bushehr's power reactor with fuel, and would be signed on 26 February. 
    The signing of the agreement, which obliges Iran to return spent nuclear fuel to Russia, will take place during Russian atomic energy chief Alexander Rumyantsev's three-day visit to Tehran, starting on 25 February, he said.
    "Under the agreement, Russia will provide Bushehr power plant's fuel for the next 10 years," Sabouri said, with the first shipment of fuel due to be delivered by plane three months after the signing.
    An agreement on the return to Russia of spent nuclear fuel has remained the key impediment to the $800 million project to build the plant in Bushehr, southern Iran.

    Vigorous denial

    "Under the agreement, Russia will provide Bushehr power plant's fuel for the next
    10 years"

    Asadollah Sabouri,
    deputy head, Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation

    Tehran has in the past used various arguments to avoid signing the agreement. It has said the material was too volatile and dangerous to transport back to Russia and also that Moscow was charging too much for the fuel itself. 
    The United States and Europe have raised alarm that Iran could reprocess the spent fuel delivered from Russia by upgrading it through centrifuges for weapons development instead, a charge Tehran has vigorously denied.

    Both the US and Israel have jointly campaigned against the Bushehr project, but Moscow - considerate of the huge monetary gains from the deal - has countered that it would make sure the plant remained harmless to protect its own security interests. 
    The announcement of the nuclear fuel deal comes just weeks after the US administration said it could not rule out the use of military force if Tehran failed to drop its alleged efforts to develop an atomic weapons capability.



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