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Iran To Take Over Bushehr, As Rohani Signals Readiness For Talks

Tehran is set to assume full control of the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant on September 23.
Iran says it will take over full control of the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant on September 23.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, made the announcement on September 22, saying the plant will remain under Russian warranty for two years and Russian experts will remain on site during that period.

Salehi said he and Russian officials will participate in a handover ceremony at the plant.

The Bushehr plant was begun in the 1970s by the German firm Siemens. Siemens withdrew following Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

In 1994, Russia agreed to complete the project and provide fuel for it. The plant was completed in 2011 and full production capacity was reached earlier this year.

Salehi said Tehran is currently in talks with Moscow to build a second reactor at Bushehr and that he expects "work will start soon."

Salehi's announcement comes as Iran's new president, Hassan Rohani, says his country is ready for negotiations with the international community about its disputed nuclear program.

In comments aired on Iranian state television at events to mark the 33rd anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran and on the eve of Rohani's visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly, Rohani insisted that the West must recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium under international law.

He said that if this right is recognized, then Iran is "ready to cooperate and together we can settle all the region's problems, and global ones as well."

The United States and others accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Interfax