Moscow: Russia`s nuclear chief said on Thursday
that the planned startup of Iran`s first nuclear power plant
will demonstrate that Iran is entitled to peaceful use of
nuclear energy under international supervision.
Sergei Kiriyenko said at a meeting with Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin that the uranium fuel will be loaded into the
reactor in Iran`s southern port of Bushehr on Saturday.
"That marks the beginning of the physical startup of the
plant and turns it from a site under construction to a
functioning facility," he said in televised remarks.
Iranian officials have said it could take about a month
before the plant starts providing electricity to the Iranian
Kiriyenko told Putin that the startup is a "landmark
event" that will show that Russia respects its international
"We have proven that Russia always fulfills its
obligations," he said, adding that Russia has argued that
every country, including Iran, has the right for peaceful use
of nuclear energy if it accepts international controls and
"I congratulate you on that," Putin said.
Russia has argued that the Bushehr project is essential
for persuading Iran to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear
watchdog and fulfill its obligations under international
nuclear nonproliferation agreements.
Russia signed a USD 1 billion contract to build the plant
in 1995, and supplied the uranium fuel for it more than two
years ago, but the launch has been put off for years.
Delaying the project has given Russia continued influence
with Iran in international attempts to have it stop uranium
enrichment -- a program Iran says it needs to make fuel for an
envisaged reactor network but which also can be used to build
The terms of the deal commit the Iranians to allow the
Russians to retrieve all used reactor fuel for reprocessing to
exclude a possibility of Iran using plutonium contained in the
spent fuel to make nuclear weapons. Iran has said that
International Atomic Energy Agency experts will be able to
verify that none of the fresh fuel or waste is diverted.
Still, the U.S. sees the Russian move to launch the
Bushehr reactor as a false signal to Tehran as Washington
strives to isolate Iran politically and economically to force
it to compromise on enrichment.