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May 11, 2011

Russia: Iran Nuclear Plant Will Soon Be Operational

A senior Russian diplomat says Iran's Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant will be up and running within weeks.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made the comment to Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency on Thursday after Iran announced this week that the reactor was in a testing mode, operating at low levels.

Iranian state media reported on Monday that the plant will start generating electricity in the next two months. It is planned to be the first in a network of nuclear power stations.

Russia, which supplied the reactor, is training Iranians to operate the facility.

The Bushehr project has been set back by technical problems and delays. Iran began loading fuel into the reactors in August and authorities expected a fall startup.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of which Iran is a member, says it is committed to imparting a "culture of nuclear safety" for all member nuclear power operators. It is monitoring the Bushehr developments.

Iran is facing international sanctions over its disputed nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is to be used for peaceful means, while Western nations fear Iran is building the capability for a nuclear weapon.

On Wednesday, a European Union official said Iran's offer this week to resume talks on its nuclear program contains nothing new and "does not appear to justify" another meeting with six world powers.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton made the comment in response to a letter Ashton received Monday from Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili asking for talks to restart.


Some information for this report was provided by AP.