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IAEA wants clarity on Iran’s nuclear program

The UN's nuclear watchdog says Iran plans to begin enriching uranium at its recently-revealed second site by the year 2011 – and the IAEA is demanding more clarification from Tehran about the facility.

According to the report published on Monday, the IAEA monitors who recently visited the second uranium enrichment facility in Iran haven’t found anything suspicious there. But the report says the IAEA is going to ask Iran to clearly explain the purposes of the facility.

Meanwhile, Moscow says the Bushehr nuclear power plant it is building for Iran will not go online this year.

“We will reach significant results regarding this issue by the end of 2009, but the plant itself won’t be launched,” said Russian Energy Minister Sergey Shmatko.

Energy Ministry spokesperson Irina Esipova added that launching an atomic power station always occurs in several consecutive phases and “what Russian Energy Minister Sergey Shmatko meant referred to connecting the station to the grid, not launching the station.”

“This is what I would like to draw your attention to: We will not connect the station to the power grid this year, but then this wasn’t the schedule anyway,” she added. “We are on schedule so far and we are sticking to it. Everything depends on the outcome of the installation and startup work. I think that very soon we will be able to give the exact date of launch.”

In 1975, a branch of the German company Siemens started the construction of the Bushehr atomic power plant. The deal was torn up in 1979 because of the Islamic Revolution, and the construction was subsequently halted.

In 1992, Russia got involved in the project. It initially planned to finish the construction of the plant in July 1999, but the date was postponed several times.