Russia Delivers More Nuclear Fuel to Iran: Official

Russia has delivered a second consignment of nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr power plant, the official news agency IRNA quoted the deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation as saying on Friday.

File photo shows technicians washing the reactor of the Bushehr nuclear power plant at the Iranian port town of Bushehr. Russia has delivered a second consignment of nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr power plant, the official news agency IRNA quoted the deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation as saying on Friday.(AFP/File/Behrouz Mehri)

"The second consignment of fuel for the Bushehr nuclear plant arrived in Iran on Friday," Ahmad Fayazbaksh said, adding that the delivery was the same amount supplied in the first consignment on December 17.

Russia will deliver a total of 82 tonnes of nuclear fuel to Iran over two months in eight separate consignments.

On December 20 a spokeswoman for the Russian contractor on the flagship project, Atomstroiexport, confirmed that it would take at least a year to start the power station.

"We can predict that the Bushehr station will be launched no earlier than the end of 2008 due to the current situation," Irina Yesipova told AFP.

Iran had said it hoped the 1,000-megawatt plant in the southern city of Bushehr could come on line within three months at up to 200 megawatts before being cranked up to full capacity nine months later.

"Six months after the end of deliveries of fuel we will start tests with the fuel. When the tests are successfully completed we can launch the station. I can't say how long the tests will last," Yesipova said.

"A deviation from the schedule risks having a negative effect on the security of the power station," she added.

Russia began sensitive deliveries of nuclear fuel to Bushehr after repeated hold-ups and an earlier call by the United States for the project to be suspended.

After Moscow announced fuel deliveries had begun, US President George W. Bush said this meant Tehran had no need to carry out its own nuclear fuel enrichment.

But the head of Iran's atomic energy organisation, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, insisted Tehran still wanted to enrich uranium on Iranian soil to produce nuclear fuel.

Bushehr lies at the centre of Iran's controversial ambitions to create its own nuclear power infrastructure.

The United States and Israel have voiced fears that Iran's civilian nuclear power programme could be a cover for a programme to develop atomic weapons, a charge denied by Tehran.

Source: AFP

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