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Iran: Moscow, Tehran Fail To Agree On Return Of Nuclear Fuel

Moscow, 6 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Talks between Russia and Iran have still failed to resolve the question of the return of spent fuel to Russia from Iran's nuclear power plant at Bushehr. Russia is helping Iran build the nuclear power plant at Bushehr. But, under strong international pressure -- particularly from the U.S. -- Russia has demanded that Iran return spent fuel from the plant. The U.S. has accused Tehran of seeking to develop its nuclear weapons program.

Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry said today it would not start delivering fuel for the Bushehr plant until an agreement is reached on the return of the fuel once it is used.

Representatives of the two countries met yesterday in Moscow but failed to agree on a date for signing the agreement.

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Ministry today rejected U.S. claims that Tehran was not doing enough to prevent anti-U.S. fighters from crossing from Iran into Iraq.

Iran's state news agency IRNA cited Foreign Ministry spokesman Reza Asefi as saying Washington is looking to lay blame for the continued resistance to U.S. troops in Iraq.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this week that Iran and Syria's efforts to stop foreign fighters were "intermittent" and "uneven."

Washington has blamed fighters loyal to ousted Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein and foreign Islamic radicals for the continued violence in Iraq.