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Iran, Russia determined to continue nuke cooperation

Speaking in Moscow on Wednesday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Romyantsov said Iran and Russia are well determined to continue their nuclear cooperation despite the US pressure on Russia to stop nuke works in Iran, reported IRNA.

In an interview with the Moscow-based Komersant daily, Romyantsov referred to his talks with the US Energy Minister Abraham Spencer in which the latter raised the Russian nuke cooperation with Iran and said the US pressure had not made Russia change its previous position regarding the nuke cooperation with Iran.

In response to a question on what would be the attitude of Russia if Iran decides to produce atomic weaponry, he said Iran would remain committed to the rules and regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He said the discovery of the uranium in Iran was not something new but it has been put on the spotlight recently due to the wide media reports.

He said Iran and Russia are now undergoing process to provide the fuel for the Bushehr nuclear plants and the return of the used fuel to Russia.

Technicians work full steam at a site near this southern port city to catch up with a tight schedule to bring Iran's first nuclear energy plant into operation -- most probably during the first half of 2004.

Main gadgets have been ferried from Russia to a barren coast, a stone's throw away from the Persian Gulf. They have been assembled and installed, but the system needs one key component to go into motion: nuclear fuel.

The construction of the Bushehr plant started in 1975 by Germany's Siemens, but the company pulled out of the contract following the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Russia resumed building the plant in 1995 after clinching an 800-million-dollar deal with the Islamic Republic.

At present, more than 1,100 Russian experts and 3,000 Iranians work on the Bushehr plant, some 750 Iranian experts will operate it once it comes on stream.

Iran has also plans for a nuclear fuel cycle, which was announced by President Mohammad Khatami last month for the first time as he revealed that the country had started excavating uranium ore from a mine, 200 km from the central city of Yazd, to produce fuel for its nuclear plants.

The announcement came shortly after US officials were cited late last year as alleging that American satellites had spotted two sites in Arak and Natanz which suggested they could be used for making nuclear weapons.

... Payvand News - 3/13/03 ... --

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