Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran and Russia say deal on return of spent fuel close

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Tehran, Oct 10, IRNA -- Iran and Russia announced Sunday that a deal 
for return of spent fuel from Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern 
Iran to Russia was at the final stage. 
The announcement was made at a joint news conference held here by 
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and his Russian counterpart 
Sergei Lavrov who arrived for a two-day visit earlier in the day. 
The visit is expected to focus on the two countries` nuclear 
cooperation in talks with Kharrazi and Iran`s pointman on nuclear 
issues, Hassan Rowhani. 
The Russian foreign minister is also preparing for President 
Vladimir Putin`s visit to the Islamic Republic, the date of which has 
yet to be worked out between the two countries. 
Russia is helping Iran build the country`s first nuclear power 
plant in the southern city of Bushehr, but is pressured by the United 
States to abandon the project. 
Washington accuses Tehran of using the project as a cover to build
an atomic bomb, a charge which Iran denies, stressing that the entire 
program is aimed at electricity generation. 
Russia has repeatedly shrugged off US pressures and vowed to 
continue its cooperation with Iran as long as the country complies 
with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 
"Moscow`s principled stance is that Iran must develop the nuclear 
program within the framework of the IAEA regime and nuclear 
Non-Proliferation Treaty," the official Itar-Tass news agency said 
Sunday on the occasion of the visit. 
Last month, Russia announced that it is opposed to reporting Iran 
to the UN Security Council, as demanded by the United States and 
Israel. 
"Iran has shown in a justifiable matter that it must have access, 
like other countries, to new technologies, including nuclear 
technology used for peaceful purposes," Igor Ivanov, chief of 
Russia`s Security Council, was cited as saying. 
"This is a viable justification and that is why Russia is 
cooperating with Iran," he added. 
An Iranian MP lauded Russia for following up an independent policy
from the West in dealing with Iran`s nuclear program. 
The MP from the northwestern city of Orumieh, Javad Jahangirzadeh,
said that Lavrov`s visit would help the two countries `rebuild their 
mutual trust`. 
"The Russian foreign minister`s visit to Iran at this juncture, 
given the consensus of the Americans and certain other countries in 
opposing Iran`s peaceful nuclear activities, can be fruitful," he 
said. 
Itar-Tass said fighting terrorism and the two countries` 
cooperation in this field will also feature prominently in the 
discussions between Lavrov and Iranian officials. 
"Both Russia and Iran are equally interested in preventing the use
of this region by terrorists and extremists," the news agency quoted 
the Russian foreign minister as saying. 
Lavrov, quoted by Itar-Tass, also described the two countries` 
positions on the fight against terrorism as `very close`. 
He said the two sides will further discuss the situation in the 
Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, as well as issues 
relating to the legal regime of the Caspian Sea. 
The sea, traditionally known for its caviar reserve, straddles 
Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran. 
The five states have tried to keep a lid on their differences 
since the legal regime of the land-locked waters was catapulted to the
core of the dispute following the collapse of the Soviet Union. 
Tehran has stressed that the legal regime of the Caspian Sea must 
be specified through a blanket consensus of all the coastal states. 
A large number of meetings have been held, but the coastal states 
have so far fallen short of finding a common ground with regard to the
legal status of the sea. 
The five coastal states of the Caspian Sea have to first iron out 
a host of fundamental differences and answer key questions, notably 
whether to consider the Caspian a sea or a lake. 
Iran calls for a condominium, or common sovereignty, over the sea 
and has made it known that it will reject any unilateral action for 
energy exploration in the sea before the issue of the legal regime is 
settled. 
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