Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Russia sets date for Iran nuclear plant

MOSCOW Russia set the timetable Tuesday for Iran's first nuclear power station, resisting pressure from Tehran to speed up work and from Washington to abandon it.

Sergei Shmatko, head of Atomstroyexport, which is building the plant in southwest Iran, said an agreement had been signed with Iran on the delivery of nuclear fuel no later than March, with the reactor starting operation next September and supplying power to the grid in November 2007.

The United States has been pushing Russia to stop building the plant, near Bushehr, because it fears Iran could use the knowledge it gains to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran says it has no such plans.

Russia says it opposes any Iranian weapons program and sees no link with the plant, but it has repeatedly postponed the opening date for the plant, citing technical difficulties.

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