Iran and Russia on Sunday signed a key &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/diplomatic/2002/12/27/41452.html' target=_blank>nuclear fuel agreement, removing the last obstacle to the launch of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant which is expected to be operational in 2006.
The plant, located in the southern province of Bushehr, is Iran's first &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/economics/2002/07/26/33288.html' target=_blank>nuclear power plant being built with Russia's aid. In order to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons with the spent fuel, Moscow conditioned the delivery of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr plant on Iran's signing of a deal which obliges it to return spent fuel to Russia.
Tehran finally agreed to sign the deal after numerous disputes, reports the Xinhua News.
According to the Tehran Times, the agreement was signed by Iran &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/economics/2002/12/27/41472.html' target=_blank>Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) Director Reza Aqazadeh and Russian Atomic Energy Agency Director Alexander Rumyantsev at the Bushehr nuclear plant in southern Iran. Under the deal Iran has to return spent nuclear fuel from the reactor.
Aqazadeh announced on Sunday that Tehran and Moscow plan to establish a joint technical committee to build a new nuclear power plant in Iran. The committee's report will be studied in the next few months by Aqazadeh and his Russian counterpart.
Speaking in a joint news conference with Rumyantsev after both visited the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Aqazadeh said that nuclear cooperation with Russia is a priority for Iran in view of the development of nuclear technology in the Islamic Republic.
Both officials refused to discuss the details of shipping the nuclear fuel to Iran and the spent fuel back to Russia, but they insisted that the agreement conforms to international nuclear regulations.
"Iran observes all the regulations on the prohibition of the spread of nuclear weapons," Rumyantsev said.