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Iranian Nuclear Plant May Be Ready By Late 2008


The director of the Russian company building Iran's nuclear power station at Bushehr says the facility will not begin operations before the end of 2008. VOA Correspondent Peter Fedynsky reports from Moscow.

The director of Russia's Atomstroiexport company, Sergei Shmatko would not set a precise date for launching operations at the nuclear power station in Iran's southern port city of Bushehr. Speaking during a visit to China, he indicated it would not be earlier than the end of 2008.

Iran on Monday confirmed the arrival of Russia's first fuel shipment for the plant.

Atomstroiexport spokeswoman Irina Yesipova told VOA fuel will be delivered by air in several shipments from the Russian city of Novosibirsk under strict supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Yesipova says regulations require nuclear fuel be in place at a plant for at least six months before the start of operations.

The spokeswoman said routine work under way at the plant includes receiving the fuel and securing it in special storage sites.

Yesipova says the fuel will also undergo various on-site technical tests, but did not specify their nature.

Iranian news agencies on Monday quoted the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, as saying this week's Russian shipment involved 82 tons of fuel for the Bushehr plant's first year of operation.

Tehran argues that nuclear work at the facility and elsewhere is strictly for civilian purposes. But the United States and its Western allies have accused Iran of using the programs for development of nuclear weapons.

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