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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia rules out early transfer of nuclear fuel to Bushehr

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Moscow, Nov 22, IRNA

A senior Russian official said here Tuesday that Moscow would not ship nuclear fuel to the Bushehr plant it is building for Iran before the facility's scheduled completion by mid-2006.

The senior official from the Russian Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, Alexander Shmygin, told reporters that it would be 'very hard' to keep the transferred nuclear fuel under Persian Gulf's climatic condition.

It was not immediately clear whether Tehran had ever requested an earlier transfer of nuclear fuel.

Tehran and Moscow have set out a time-frame for the delivery of nuclear fuel under an agreement signed in February, but the dates have not been made public.

The Bushehr plant, built under a one-billion-dollar deal, has also seen several dates for its completion pushed back.

The Islamic Republic announced in August that the 1,000-megawatt plant would be operational in October 2006, a year behind schedule.

The plant was expected to come on-stream in 2005, some two years from an earlier target of 2003.

Secretary of the Russian Security Council Igor Ivanov, who visited Iran recently, was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying that the construction work at the plant was 80 percent complete.

Under the agreement, Iran has to return nuclear fuel rods which are designed and built in Russia.

Faced with such troubles, Iran has been pushing through a program to develop its own nuclear fuel cycle, but it has been hampered by US accusations that the plan is a covert agenda to build atomic bombs.

Iran vehemently denies such charges, insisting that its nuclear program is strictly civilian and pledging to continue its complete fuel cycle under the non-proliferation treaty.

Once operational, the Bushehr power plant is projected to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity, 6,000 megawatts less than the target which Iran has set to produce by 2021 in nuclear power plants.

Construction of the Bushehr power plant has already cost Iran billions of dollars. The German firm Siemens and its subsidiary Kraftwerke Union (KWU) began work on the plant in 1974, but stopped following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

At that time, Unit-One was 90 percent complete, with 60 percent of the equipment installed, and Unit-Two was 50 percent complete.

During the 1980 to 1988 imposed war with Iraq, Bushehr reactors were repeatedly targeted by Iraq, which bombed the plant at least six times.

Starting in the mid-1980s, Iran approached several nuclear suppliers about the possibility of completing the Bushehr-1 reactor.

A consortium of West German, Spanish and Argentine companies bid to complete it in the late 1980s, but the deal was never completed owing to US pressure.

In a similar deal, Iran signed a protocol in February 1990 with Spanish companies to complete the plant and supply the reactor's fuel, but they later cancelled the deal citing US political pressure.

The Bushehr plant has also been subject to Israeli bombing threats, but Iranian military commanders have warned that the Zionist regime would have to forget about Dimona in the event of an attack.

Dimona, in the Negev desert, is where Israel produces
weapons-grade plutonium for its estimated 200-400 nuclear warheads.


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