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Iran Predicts February Nuclear Deal With Moscow

17 February 2005 -- A senior Iranian official said today that his country intends to sign a nuclear fuel deal with Russia next week, which could clear the way for Iran to operate its Russian-built nuclear power plant.

The deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Asadollah Sabouri, told state television today that the signing will take place on 26 February, when the head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency is in Tehran.

The agreement, after years of negotiations, obliges Iran to return spent nuclear fuel to Russia.

Russia and Western countries have expressed concerns that Iran could reprocess the spent nuclear fuel and use it for a nuclear-weapons program.

Bushehr, Iran's first nuclear power plant, is scheduled to start up in late 2005 and reach full capacity in 2006.