Russia, Iran say ready to sign protocol on nuclear waste

Russia and Iran reiterated they are ready to sign a protocol on the return of spent nuclear fuel to Russia, Russian media reported Wednesday.

Alexander Rumyantsev, Russian Minister of Atomic Energy, and Gholamreza Shafei, Iranian Ambassador to Russia, held negotiations on the construction of the first reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, and both expressed "interest in signing this document as soon as possible," a Russian Atomic Energy Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

Russian news reports had said that the two sides might announce after the meeting when the protocol agreement would be officially signed.

The spent nuclear fuel can be used to develop nuclear weapons. And the protocol is key to the completion of Iran's first nuclear power plant.

Rumyantsev agreed at the meeting to visit Tehran in January, 2004 to hold talks with the chief of Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, the report said, adding that they also raised the possibility of constructing a second reactor at Bushehr.

Russia and Iran signed a contract in 1995 to jointly build an 800-million-dollar nuclear power plant in the coastal city of Bushehr.

According to the initial schedule, the first unit of the plant should be completed in 2004. Russia decided earlier this month to put off the launch of the first unit till 2005.



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