Monday, December 17, 2007

Russia Delivers

At least someone kept their promise regarding Iran's nuclear program.

BBC NEWS - Russia has delivered its first shipment of nuclear fuel to a reactor it is helping to build at Bushehr in Iran.

The two sides reached agreement last week on a schedule to finish building the plant after years of delays.

The Russian company building the Bushehr plant, Atomstroiexport, said the delivery of the enriched uranium fuel began on Sunday.

The head of Iran's atomic energy agency, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, later confirmed that the first delivery had arrived, according to Iran's state-run Irna news agency.

The delivery of the nuclear fuel has removed one of the most significant practical sanctions against Tehran, says the BBC's diplomatic correspondent, Jonathan Marcus.

Atomstroiexport said the containers of fuel had been inspected and sealed before delivery by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The company said the first delivery of 163 canisters of uranium-235 arrived at Bushehr on Sunday.

The full delivery will take up to two months, Atomstroiexport said. The fuel is lowly-enriched uranium which Russia says cannot be used in a nuclear weapon.

The US has said, however, that spent fuel from a reactor can be reprocessed into plutonium for a weapon.

Russia's foreign ministry said it had received assurances from Tehran that the fuel would not be used anywhere but at Bushehr.