Monday, September 25, 2006

Iran: Bushehr to be finished in 6 months

The Jerusalem Post:
"Iran will complete the establishment of its nuclear power station at Bushehr in half a year," chief of Iran's Atomic Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, declared on Monday.

Gholamreza was on a visit to Moscow where he due to hold meetings about the completion of the Russian-built nuclear power plant.

Iran complained that Russia was dragging its heels over the supply of nuclear fuel before the high-level delegation left for Moscow with the aim of securing a firm delivery date. READ MORE

"Russia in the past gave written commitments about the timetable for delivering the fuel. However, it has not realized this yet," Iran's deputy nuclear chief Mohammad Saeedi was quoted as saying by state television.

"We hope Russia makes clear promises to Iran about the supply of fuel to Bushehr," said Saeedi, who was accompanying Aghazadeh, on his visit to Moscow.

Aghazadeh was to hold talks with Russian Federal Nuclear Agency head Sergei Kiriyenko later Monday. The visit comes just days after Kiriyenko was quoted as saying that the controversial nuclear plant at Bushehr would start operations in September 2007.

Russia has a US$800 million contract to build a nuclear reactor in the southern port city of Bushehr, a project that the United States fears could help Tehran develop nuclear weapons.

Iran says its nuclear activities are purely aimed at generating electricity.

While Moscow has rejected US demands to halt work on Bushehr, it has delayed supplying the fuel apparently to pressure Tehran to halt uranium enrichment. Enrichment is key step in the Iranian nuclear program which could produce fuel for a nuclear warhead or for power generation.

Bushehr had been due become operational this year.

"During this visit, barriers in the way of quick completion of the plant will be reviewed," Saeedi said, adding that Iran hoped to complete the timing of the delivery of the fuel.

The United States has long objected to Russia's deal to build Bushehr, saying it could be used by Iran to produce fissionable material for weapons.

Russia last year eventually worked out a deal with Iran for all the plant's spent fuel to be sent to Russia, eliminating the possibility that Iran could reprocess it for weapons.

However, Iran has resisted Russia's proposal to conduct all of Iran's uranium enrichment on Russian soil.