Russia sends nuclear fuel to Iran

Russia has begun delivering nuclear fuel to Iran’s Bushehr power plant. The first fuel clusters have already arrived at the site. Russia is helping to construct the nuclear plant under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated today that fuel supplies have been provided because Iran “has created conditions to restore trust for its nuclear programme”.

Over the next two months163 main and 17 reserve fuel clusters will be delivered in two stages .

Anticipating a diplomatic storm over the matter, Moscow has assured its partners in the UN Security Council that Tehran will not use the fuel for non-peaceful purposes and repeatedly urged Iran to drop its own uranium enrichment programme.

Many believe that there is a bright future for relations between Iran and the international community.

“The U.S. has backed itself into a corner. Their intelligence reports show clearly that Iran abandoned plans to build nuclear weapon years ago. The world is beginning to realise that no pressure will make Tehran change their plans and that the potential for economic co-operation with Iran is huge,” Radzhab Safarov, Head of Iran Studies Centre said.  

Iran first planned a reactor near the south-western port of Bushehr with German assistance in 1974.

Those plans were abandoned after the revolution in 1979, but Russia picked up the project in 1992.

On December 13, 2007, Russia and Iran agreed on a schedule to finish the construction on the Bushehr plant after repeated delays, caused by disrupted financing from Tehran.
 
Many analysts, however, believe Moscow delayed as Tehran resisted international pressure to be more open about its programme.

Iran's nuclear agenda has long been a bone of contention between members of the UN Security Council's six parties, particularly the United States.

Washington is believed to be preparing further economic sanctions against Tehran, despite calls for more talk and less punishing action. Furthermore, according to some, there remains the possibility of military action.

“President Bush is very likely to decide on a military solution of the issue at the end of his presidency. As specialists say, the danger period is spring and summer of 2008 when a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is most likely,” Vladimir Sazhin from the Oriental Studies Institute said.

Meanwhile, the first fuel clusters have arrived and been placed in secure storage. U.S President George W. Bush praised Russia's effort to help Iran in its civilian nuclear programme.

“Interestingly enough, today Russia is in the process of sending enriched uranium to Iran to help on the civilian nuclear reactor. If that’s the case, if the Russians are willing to do that, which I support, then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich,” he said.

Signed and sealed by the International Atomic Energy Agency and delivered by Russia, the fuel supplies are what it takes to turn a great big monolith in Bushehr into Iran's first atomic power station.