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Russia, Iran Delay Nuclear Fuel Deal


http://gdb.rferl.org/DAC82084-6DC8-4404-8349-8D19CB37F71B_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/DAC82084-6DC8-4404-8349-8D19CB37F71B_mw800_mh600.jpg 26 February 2005 -- Russia and Iran today delayed the expected signing of a deal to supply the Islamic republic with fuel for its first nuclear reactor on condition the spent fuel is returned.

Aleksandr Rumyantsev, head of Russia's federal nuclear energy agency, and Gholamreza Aghazadeh, chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, were expected to finalize the Bushehr atomic power plant deal today during a meeting in Tehran and then hold a press
conference.

But a spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Yaghoub Jabarian, has told reporters negotiations are continuing, adding that a press conference will "maybe" take place tomorrow. No further details were given.

The United States has criticized Russia's construction of the Bushehr plant, saying it could help Iran develop nuclear weapons.

But Russia says the return of the spent nuclear fuel to Russia would prevent Iran from potentially reprocessing the material to extract plutonium, which could be used in nuclear arms.

(AFP/dpa)
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