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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia's nuclear chief to discuss Bushehr reactor in Iran

RIA Novosti

25/02/2009 09:12 TEHRAN, February 25 (RIA Novosti) - The head of Russia's state nuclear power corporation Rosatom is due to discuss the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran on Wednesday.

Sergei Kiriyenko is scheduled to take part in a working meeting with heads of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and subcontractors. The meeting will take place at the construction site.

"Today we are starting large-scale work on launching the Bushehr nuclear power plant. In particular, one of the elements will be uploading dummy assemblies in the reactor of the first energy unit," Kiriyenko said.

Earlier, a spokesman for the AEOI said Iran was to start up the $1 billion Bushehr facility for a test on Wednesday.

The plant, 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.

Russia has cited financial problems for the delay, but it has been suggested Moscow was stalling due to Western suspicions that Tehran could be seeking to build nuclear weapons.

The Islamic Republic insists it needs its nuclear program to generate energy for civilian purposes.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said earlier the Bushehr plant will go on stream in the first half of 2009. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin said earlier the plant would be commissioned according to the schedule agreed with Tehran.

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

Russia, along with China, has been behind the watering down of UN Security Council sanctions proposed by the United States and other Western countries. The two countries have advocated diplomacy in addressing the Iran nuclear issue.

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