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First Russian nuclear fuel delivered to Iran




Moscow - Russia on Monday delivered its first shipments of nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr power plant, setting a definite timeline for the start-up of the controversial plant. The fuel left Russia's Novosibirsk chemical plant after all payment conflicts stalling Russia's completion of Iran's first nuclear power plant were resolved last week, the Foreign Ministry said.

State contractor Atomstroiexport said the Bushehr plant could be completed six months from the first fuel deliveries.

The United States and some European countries have pushed for sanctions against Iran, alleging that the Bushehr plant is a cover for ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

But a US intelligence report released two weeks ago seemed to support Iranian and Russian claims that the Islamic state's nuclear programme is purely for civilian use.

News of the US report buoyed up Russian-Iranian talks to move forward on the Bushehr plant. Russia has repeatedly pushed back the start-up date for the plant, citing delays in payments from Tehran.

On a visit to Iran in October, Putin promised his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Russia would complete the power plant, but did not specify a deadline.

Observers say Russia had delayed fuel deliveries because it does not fully trust Ahmadinejad and fears an international backlash amid concern over Iran's nuclear programme.


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