Russia trains 600 Iranian nuclear experts
MOSCOW (AFP) Feb 18, 2004
Russia has trained 600 Iranian experts to work on the Islamic republic's first nuclear power station, which Washington fears is being used to develop atomic weapons, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported Wednesday.

An Iranian nuclear official told the agency that the experts had undergone training at the Novovoronezh centre, 500 kilometres (300 miles) south of Moscow, which is to prepare some 700 specialists for work in the Bushehr plant.

Russia has faced intense pressure over its construction of the Bushehr reactor from the United States, which fears that Iran could use fuel from the reactor for a weapons program, though Washington has toned down its criticism in the past several months.

"We still have doubts about the wisdom of Russia's work to build an atomic power station at Bushehr," Alexander Vershbow, the US ambassador in Moscow, said last week.

Russia, which has refused to abandon the 800-million-dollar project, provisionally plans to deliver fuel to Bushehr by mid 2005 and plans for the reactor to start operating a year later.