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Iran To Sign Agreement On Russian Nuclear Plant

1 February 2005 -- Iran's ambassador to Russia says Tehran is ready to sign an agreement that could clear the way for Russia to open a nuclear power plant in Iran.

Ambassador Gholam Reza Shafei is quoted by Russian news agencies today as saying Iran is prepared to sign a document on the return of spent nuclear fuel to Russia.

Russia and western countries have expressed fears that if Iran kept the spent fuel, it could be upgraded to make a nuclear weapon.

Shafei says the agreement may be reached during a visit to Iran by Russia's atomic energy chief Aleksandr Rumyantsev later this month.

Russian officials have said the nuclear power plant it is building in Bushehr could be started at the end of the year and produce commercial electricity in 2006.

In a related development, the head of Iran's atomic energy program began talks at the European Union headquarters in Brussels today. European governments are trying to persuade Iran to abandon activities to enrich uranium, which can fuel a nuclear power plant or a nuclear weapon.