iranian nuclear 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Russia has agreed to ship nuclear fuel for a controversial atomic power plant it is building in Iran's city of Bushehr by March 2007, a senior nuclear official said, local news agencies reported.
The statement by Sergei Shmatko, head of the state company Atomstroiexport building the plant, should allay concerns voiced by Teheran about Moscow dragging its feet on the issue.
The Interfax news agency cited Shamtko who met with Mahmoud Hanatian, vice president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, as saying that all plans connected with the Bushehr plant have been finalized, and it is expected to be launched in September 2007 and to start producing electricity in November that year.
Meanwhile, Russia's security council chief Igor Ivanov insisted on seeking a diplomatic solution to international concerns over Iran's nuclear program at a meeting with Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who heads the country's nuclear organization.
"We are firmly convinced of the need to resolve the question of the Iranian nuclear program through the negotiating process, at the negotiating table," Ivanov said.
"We consider it necessary that Iran should be guaranteed the right to peacefully develop nuclear energy ... and also to remove the concerns of the international community regarding obligations under the nonproliferation regime," he said.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, have been working to persuade Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. The West suspects Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing an atomic bomb, while Tehran insists it is only striving to develop electricity.
The United States and other Western nations have watched with concern as Russia pushes toward completing its US$800 million (â‚¬624 million) plant at Bushehr. Washington fears the plant could be used by Iran to produce fissionable material for weapons.
In an effort to ease Western concerns, Russia has agreed with Iran that Tehran will ship spent fuel back to Russia. However, Iran has resisted Russia's proposal to conduct all of Iran's uranium enrichment on Russian soil.