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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran can launch Bushehr without Russian help - former president

RIA Novosti

27/02/2009 17:41 TEHRAN, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - Iran would be able to put its Bushehr nuclear power plant into operation on its own if Russia refused to do so, a former Iranian president said on Friday.

Russia said on Wednesday it had completed the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushehr and would soon launch a trial run, but it did not say when the plant would go into operation.

"Iran's enemies must know that such achievements as putting a satellite into orbit and uranium enrichment prove beyond all doubt that Iran can put the Bushehr nuclear power plant into service with its own resources if the Russians do not do so," Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said during Friday prayers in Teheran.

He added that Russia must "in any event honor its [nuclear power plant] obligations."

The Iranian politician reiterated that Tehran was not pursuing any military goals and was ready "to prove this in the course of negotiations."

He said, however, that these negotiations "should be without threats or warnings" from the West.

Russia's nuclear power corporation said earlier that Moscow and Tehran were planning to sign a nuclear fuel supply contract for a term of at least 10 years.

The plant in southern Iran, which Russia undertook to finish as part of a 1998 contract, was originally scheduled to go on line at the end of 2006, but the date has been pushed back several times.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said previously the Bushehr plant would go on stream in the first half of 2009.

In December 2007-January 2008, Russia supplied nuclear fuel for the plant under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog. Iran has agreed to return spent nuclear fuel to Russia.

The construction of the Bushehr plant was started in 1975 by German companies. However, the German firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo on hi-tech supplies to Iran was imposed following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by radical students.



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