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    Iran's Nuclear Plant May Be Operational Soon

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    Russia's top nuclear official says Iran's first nuclear plant should be operational by August despite efforts to impose a fourth round of U.N. sanctions on Tehran.

    Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Rosatom, Russia's state-run nuclear corporation, says the draft U.N. resolution on sanctions against Iran will not affect plans for the Bushehr facility, which Russia is helping Tehran build.

    He commented Thursday, two days after the United States announced it had won support from both Russia and China on a draft resolution that would impose tougher sanctions on Iran.  

    Russia and China are among the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.  Both countries had previously resisted imposing tough sanctions.

    Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday urged Iran to send a new fuel swap proposal to the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, as soon as possible.

    Earlier this week, Iran announced it had brokered a deal with Turkey and Brazil in which Tehran would send some of its enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for nuclear fuel.

    The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to build a nuclear bomb.  Iran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.

    The U.N. draft resolution includes an arms embargo, limits on Iranian ballistic missile activity, and more inspections of vessels suspected of carrying nuclear-related cargo.

    Russia has been helping Iran build the Bushehr facility since 1995.  Moscow has previously said the plant cannot be used for military purposes and would come under the supervision of the IAEA.  

    Russian officials have also said Iran will have to return all used fuel rods to Moscow.

     

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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