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Iran, Russia Deny Ultimatum Report

Igor Ivanov (right) with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Tehran in January (epa) March 20, 2007 -- Both Russia and Iran today rejected a report that Russia has told Iran it will withhold fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant unless Tehran complies to UN demands to suspend its uranium-enrichment program.

"The New York Times," quoting anonymous sources, reported on March 19 that Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov delivered the ultimatum to Iran's deputy chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Hosseini Tash, in Moscow last week.

Russia's Security Council has denied the report.

Tash told Iranian state radio that Russia had, on the contrary, insisted that the Bushehr issue is not linked to the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program.

The Russian state-run firm helping Iran build the Bushehr plant announced this month it was halting the planned uranium-fuel delivery because of Iran's payment delays.

Tehran ignored a February 21 deadline to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, which the West fears could be used to build nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear program is solely for energy.

(Reuters, AFP,

Talking Technical

Talking Technical

A control panel at the Bushehr nuclear power plant (Fars)

CASCADES AND CENTRIFUGES: Experts and pundits alike continue to debate the goals and status of Iran's nuclear program. It remains unclear whether the program is, as Tehran insists, a purely peaceful enegy project or, as the United States claims, part of an effort to acquire nuclear weapons.
On June 7, 2006, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with nuclear expert Shannon Kile of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden to help sort through some of the technical issues involved. "[Natanz] will be quite a large plant," Kile said. "There will be about 50,000 centrifuges and how much enriched uranium that can produce [is] hard to say because the efficiency of the centrifuges is not really known yet. But it would clearly be enough to be able to produce enough [highly-enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, if that's the route that they chose to go...." (more)


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THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.