Russia Delivers 4th N. Fuel Consignment to Iran

A01129028.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) Russia has delivered more than half the fuel for Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, after a fourth consignment arrived on Sunday.“The fourth consignment of fuel arrived Sunday morning, weighing 11 tons at the Bushehr site” in southern Iran, the Organization for Production and Development of Nuclear Energy said in a statement.

Russia has so far delivered 44 tons of fuel, after shipments which arrived on December 17, 28 and January 18. It is due to deliver a total of some 82 tons of nuclear fuel in eight consignments, with the last due next month.

Iran insisted on December 30 that its first nuclear power station would be launched in the summer of 2008.

“The Bushehr nuclear power station will launch at a capacity of 50 percent next summer,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said earlier.

A Russian contractor is finishing the construction of the 1,000-megawatt plant in Bushehr. Moscow also agreed to deliver the nuclear fuel required by the facility.

The five permanent members of the Security Council are scheduled to meet on Tuesday in Berlin to discuss “elements of a possible resolution” to force Iran to suspend enrichment.

Tehran denies Western charges that it is seeking nuclear arms, insisting its program is peaceful and aimed at providing civilian energy.

The US-led European Union troika of Britain, France and Germany have been leading efforts to persuade Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a right envisaged for all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

US is at loggerheads with Iran over Tehran’s independent and home-grown nuclear technology. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Iran is under two sets of UN Security Council sanctions for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment even after the peaceful nature of its nuclear programs and activities was proved.

Washington is pushing for additional UN penalties despite a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and a similar report by the IAEA head in November which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities, Russia and China increased resistance to any further punitive measures by the Security Council.

Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium only to produce fuel for reactors that would generate electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has also pledged to clear up all remaining questions over the program by late February.

Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East on Wednesday, has called on Arab states to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the IAEA and US intelligence reports.

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