Russia to Load Fuel in Iran Nuclear Plant in December 2003

Russian experts are planning to load fuel in the first unit of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is under construction with Russia's help, in December 2003, Russian Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Andrei Malyshev said Monday.

Malyshev said Russia had always regarded the Bushehr plant, which is due to start operation in June 2004, as a purely civilianfacility.

Russia signed an agreement of 800 million U.S. dollars with Iran in 1995 on building a nuclear plant at Bushehr on the Gulf coast.

This plan has infuriated Washington, which makes the Iran issuea sore point in bilateral relation. Moscow defends its cooperationwith Iran by reiterating that its aid only serves civilian purpose.

Malyshev said the building of the first unit of the Bushehr plant had passed several checks, including that by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and no violations of international agreements have been revealed.

As for the possible construction of a second unit at the Bushehr plant, Malyshev said no such project has been agreed on sofar. If such an agreement was reached, the reactor would likely besimilar to the first unit, he added.

Despite the U.S. opposition, Russia in last month approved a long-term program to boost cooperation with Iran and build severalnuclear reactors in the country.

Under the 10-year program, Russia will help Iran construct up to six reactors, expand conventional power station and develop oiland gas deposits.



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