Russia: Iran's nuclear plant to get fuel next week

Aug 13, 2010 By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV , Associated Press Writer
In this photo released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), the reactor building of Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is seen, just outside the port city of Bushehr 750 miles (1245 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, in this Nov. 30, 2009 file photo. Russia's nuclear agency spokesman Sergei Novikov said Friday Aug. 13, 2010 it will load fuel into Iran's first nuclear power plant next week, marking the start of its launch. (AP Photo/ISNA, Mehdi Ghasemi) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES

(AP) -- Russia will load fuel into Iran's first nuclear power plant next week despite U.S. demands to prevent Iran obtaining nuclear energy until the country proves that it's not pursuing a weapons capacity, officials said Friday.

Uranium fuel shipped by Russia will be loaded into the Bushehr reactor on Aug. 21, beginning a startup process that will last about a month and end with the reactor sending electricity to Iranian cities, Russian and Iranian officials said.

"From that moment the Bushehr plant will be officially considered a installation," said Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for the Russian nuclear agency, told The Associated Press.

Russia signed a $1 billion contract to build the Bushehr plant in 1995 but it has dragged its feet on completing the project.

Moscow has cited technical reasons for the delays, but analysts say Moscow has used the project to press Iran to ease its defiance over its nuclear program.

Russian officials say, however, that U.N. sanctions against Iran, including a new, more stringent set approved in June, don't directly prevent Moscow from going ahead with the Bushehr project. It 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.

Russian officials did not say why they had decided to move ahead with loading fuel into the Bushehr plant now.

The uranium fuel used by the Bushehr plant is enriched to a level too low to be used in an . Iran is already producing uranium enriched to that level - about 3.5 percent - and has started a pilot program of enriching uranium to 20 percent. Iran claims it needs the 20 percent enriched uranium to produce fuel for a medical research reactor, but the move has further heightened international concerns about its nuclear program.

Uranium must be enriched to over 90 percent to be used in a nuclear warhead.

Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying that the country had invited International Atomic Energy Agency experts to watch the transfer of fuel, which was shipped about two years ago, into the Bushehr reactor.

"Fuel complexes are sealed (and being monitored by IAEA). Naturally, IAEA inspectors will be there to watch the unsealing," ISNA quoted Salehi as saying.

Russia has said that the Bushehr project has been closely supervised by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, which declined comment Friday. It also says Iran has signed a pledge to ship all the spent uranium fuel from Bushehr back to Russia for reprocessing, excluding a possibility that any of it could used to make nuclear weapons.

Russia has walked a fine line on Iran for years. It is one of the six powers leading international efforts to ensure Iran does not develop an atomic bomb. It has backed U.N. sanctions, but strongly criticized the U.S. and the European Union for following up with separate, even stronger sanctions.

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gopher65
not rated yet Aug 13, 2010
"Uranium must be enriched to over 90 percent to be used in a nuclear warhead."

Well that is simply untrue. Uranium-235 based nuclear weapons only become *efficient* when they're enriched to ~90%+ (95% is better), but you can construct an inefficient nuclear weapon from higher end reactor grade uranium.

Whether anyone would bother to do that is another story. You'd get far better results spending the same amount of money on conventional weapons.
Royale
2 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2010
There's a guy (his name escapes me) that used to work for the DoD who made a computer program (a webcrawler) to scour the internet and make predictions on the future. It uses strategy/game theory etc, as well as taking into account how others act under pressure. The program has proved very accurate (surpassing that of actual DoD analysts) and it actually suggests we allow for example, North Korea to build a Nuke; and that would actually make him less resilient and less likely to use it. Maybe the same should go for Iran. I don't really know, but maybe that program could offer some insights. I hope they're using it over analysts, and i agree with Russia that we shouldn't be pushing even harder sanctions down their throats. The US and Europe can't be world leaders forever. Empires rise and fall, like the wax and ween of Caribou populations... (that last part was from Pi)
yyz
4 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2010
"....suggests we allow for example, North Korea to build a Nuke"

Newsflash-

North Korea detonated a small fission device in 2006 and tested a second low yield device in 2009. It's suspected they presently have a small stash of low yield weapons(
KBK
not rated yet Aug 15, 2010
The accusation(s) has(have) always been that the Bush/Cheney crew gave the technology to them through Pakistan in order to keep the region inflamed, and to satiate the Pakistani regime.(?) Such things are good for the war business and to keep the press occupied with more bullshite at home to paste over policital, corporate, and economic issues. You can't fight creeping fascism when you are running in fear, now, can you?

Apparently...Involved in this technological transfer was a renegade Pakistani scientist, who sold it to N.Korea. Look it up.

It's quite the pile of messed up and mixed up stories, to say the least.

As for the web crawling program, you might be speaking about Cliff High and his works? I've no idea, just taking a guess.
COCO
not rated yet Aug 16, 2010
how about the elephant in the room? A ME country with multiple nukes with ranges well into Europe and not a signature to the NPT? Can we say double standard - coming from the only country on earth who has used weapons of mass destruction on civilan targets?
otto1923
not rated yet Aug 16, 2010
"Uranium must be enriched to over 90 percent to be used in a nuclear warhead."

Well that is simply untrue. Uranium-235 based nuclear weapons only become *efficient* when they're enriched to ~90%+ (95% is better), but you can construct an inefficient nuclear weapon from higher end reactor grade uranium.

Whether anyone would bother to do that is another story. You'd get far better results spending the same amount of money on conventional weapons.
Apparently there was at least one test using technically reactor-grade plutonium but is controversial:
http://en.wikiped...ear_test