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Iran, Russia Sign Nuclear Agreement

  • Greg LaMotte

Iran and Russia have signed an agreement for Russia to provide nuclear fuel to Iran, and for Tehran to return the spent fuel to Russia. The United States, which suspects Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, opposed the deal.

The agreement was signed Sunday at the Bushehr nuclear plant in southern Iran, and paves the way for Iran to start up its first nuclear power plant sometime next year.

The deal calls for Russia to supply Iran with nuclear fuel, with a pledge from Tehran to return all spent nuclear fuel to Russia.

Washington has strongly opposed such an agreement, accusing Iran of secretly attempting to develop a nuclear weapons program. But, with agreement from Iran to return the spent nuclear fuel, which could be used to make bomb-grade material, Russian officials have said they hope that will allay concerns in the United States.

According to Iranian studies Professor Mohammed Saiid Abdel Moemen at Ein Shams University in Cairo, the agreement has broad implications for Iran.

Mr. Moemen says Iran will choose a new president this year. He says fundamentalists in the republic want to gain this important post so that all aspects of control over Iranian society would be in their hands.

In this regard, Mr. Moemen says, there will likely be broad fundamentalist support for Hassan Rohani, the lead nuclear negotiator for Iran. He says the achievements made by Mr. Rohani would make him the likely presidential candidate to gain the most support.

The United States and Europe are more concerned about Iran's efforts to produce its own nuclear fuel through uranium enrichment.

France, Britain, and Germany are trying to secure an Iranian commitment to scrap its enrichment plans. Iran has suspended its enrichment activities during the talks, but has refused to entirely scrap the program that it says is for peaceful purposes.

Iran initiated its nuclear program before the 1979 Islamic revolution, and has announced plans to build several more nuclear power plants.