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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia, Iran may set up JV to operate Bushehr NPP in 3 months

RIA Novosti

14/02/2008 21:52 BUSHEHR (Iran), February 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Iran could set up a joint venture to operate the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran in three months, the chief executive of Atomstroyexport said Thursday.

"We have almost agreed to establish a JV to operate the Bushehr NPP, both as part of the contract and later, during maintenance," Sergei Shmatko, the president of the Russian nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly, told journalists. "I have set myself an optimistic timeframe - three months."

Shmatko also said Atomstroyexport, which is building Bushehr, plans to almost double the 1,300 Russian personnel employed in the NPP construction.

He added that the legal status of the JV was as yet unclear.

Shmatko praised a recent conference at the Bushehr NPP attended by Atomstroyexport and subcontractors to discuss the start of the final stage of construction. Iran hopes its first NPP will be launched in October.

Russia delivered the final fuel shipment to Bushehr on January 28. With the eighth delivery of five metric tons, Russia has supplied a total of 82 metric tons of low-enriched uranium to the light-water nuclear power plant, which has been the focus of international attention over fears Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

The first delivery of fuel to the plant arrived on December 16, 2007 following months of delays that Moscow attributed to payment arrears, but which Iran blamed on pressure from Western nations.

Western nations fear Iran seeks to produce nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.

Two sets of UN Security Council sanctions are currently in place against Tehran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

The five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany have agreed a draft for new measures against the Islamic Republic, strengthening two previous rounds of sanctions but falling short of the punitive steps proposed by Washington.

Tehran plans to hold tenders for the construction of 19 new nuclear reactors and to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity at its NPPs in the next two decades.

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