Russia wants to complete Iran nuclear plant swiftly
* Russian atomic energy chief says Moscow sees no political obstacles to completing Bushehr plant
* Says Russian offer of unranium enrichment still on the table
TEHRAN/MOSCOW: Russia wants to complete building a nuclear power station in Iran as soon as possible, the country’s top nuclear official said on Saturday, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia’s atomic energy agency Rosatom, said during a visit to Tehran that the civilian nuclear plant at Bushehr in Iran would be launched as fast as possible.
“We don’t see any political obstacles to completing Bushehr and we are interested in it (the station) being launched in the swiftest possible period,” Kiriyenko said, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
However, ITAR-TASS quoted an unidentified member of the Russian delegation as saying it was ‘highly unlikely’ that an agreement would be reached before the end of Kiriyenko’s three-day visit.
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, said that talks with Russia had focussed on finalising the Russian-built nuclear power station at Bushehr in southern Iran, the country’s first.
“The main issue discussed was examining the latest situation of the Bushehr plant,” Aghazadeh said on state television after meeting Kiriyenko.
“We also talked about Russia’s willingness for future cooperation in developing peaceful nuclear activities,” he added.
Sergei Kiriyenko said after the talks that Moscow’s offer to enrich uranium on Russian soil was ‘still on the table’.
A first round of Iran-Russia nuclear talks in Moscow was wrapped up on Tuesday with Iranian officials saying they were hopeful a Russian compromise to end the crisis over the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme would bear fruit.
While the Russians are offering to enrich uranium outside of Iran, the Islamic republic insists it will not give up its right to the process and has already started very low-level enrichment, ending a voluntary suspension.
The West is equally adamant that Iran should not master uranium enrichment as it can create both fuel for civilian reactors and, taken one step further, the explosive core of an atomic bomb. Iran denies it wants the bomb.
Kiriyenko, due to visit Bushehr on Saturday, said there was a “basis for cooperating in the domains of (nuclear) fuel and the construction of power stations”.
Russia has sought to play a major role in the diplomatic game by offering to enrich the uranium Iran needs for nuclear power stations on Russian soil.
Russia’s building of the nuclear plant at Bushehr has long provoked objections from US officials who fear Iran could use the technology for developing weapons.
Moscow says Iran has a right to civilian atomic energy and brushes aside criticism of the contract, which is worth around $1 billion.
Lu Guozheng, the deputy foreign minister of China – another permanent member of the Security Council – was also in Tehran on Saturday although there were no reports of a combined Russian-Chinese meeting with Iranian officials.
Uranium enrichment is seen as a red line by the United States and European Union, as it is the so-called “breakout capacity” for making atomic weapons.
Iran says its nuclear programme is a peaceful effort to generate electricity and that it has a right under international law to enrich uranium. agencies