Iran, Russia to Discuss Launch of N. Plant

A04129578.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Head of Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency Sergei Kiriyenko will visit Iran to finalize the launch date of Bushehr power plant.

Kiriyenko is scheduled to hold talks with senior officials of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran during his stay, press tv reported.

Iran’s first Russian-built nuclear power plant is expected to become operational in late 2008.

In December 2007, Russia began the delivery of 82 tons of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr plant, under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The US, Israel and their Western allies accuse Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of making secret attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

Iran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, saying that renouncing its rights under the NPT would encourage world powers to put further pressure on the country and would not lead to a change in the West’s hardline stance on Tehran.

The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog, however, continues to conduct snap inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and has reported that all “declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities”.

Moscow, however, has affirmed its determination to press ahead with its nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic on the grounds that Iran is legally entitled to use nuclear technology for electricity generation and other peaceful applications.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have drawn up an incentives package, offering the country political and economic incentives in return for Iran renouncing its right to uranium enrichment on its soil.

Iran plans to construct additional nuclear power plants to provide for the electricity needs of its growing population.

Iran currently suffers from an electricity shortage that has forced the country into adopting a rationing program by scheduling power outages – of up to two hours a day – across both urban and rural areas.

Iran insists that it has to continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Iran has repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed after it answered the UN agency’s questions about the history of its nuclear program.

Some political analysts believe that the US is at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. 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.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted the report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions or launch military action against Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Not only Iranian officials, 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.

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