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. Russia vows to complete Iran nuclear plant by 2006
MOSCOW (AFP) Dec 17, 2004
Russia said Friday that it would complete Iran's first nuclear power plant in early 2006 at the latest following talks here with the Islamic state's economics and finance minister.

Interfax quoted Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev as saying that Moscow was also in talks over launching the construction of a second Iranian nuclear reactor after the first is completed at the controversial Bushehr plant.

"The physical launch of the (first) energy block should happen at the end of 2005 or the start of 2006, with it going on line in 2006," Interfax quoted Rumyantsev as saying.

The Iranian economy and finance minister, Sadfar Hosseini, replied that he was interested in Russia also completing a second plant at Bushehr, but he gave no timeframe for when that project could be completed.

He said that Iran was also in talks with other European states over future nuclear projects, Interfax quoted him as saying, without providing further details.

Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power plant despite Western concerns that the project could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran agreed this month to suspend uranium enrichment in order to defuse international concern about its nuclear program.

Moscow insists that it has the right to push ahead with the Bushehr project, now estimated to cost some 800 million dollars (600 million euros), but demands that Iran return all spent fuel back to Russia before the plant can be launched.

The nuclear waste could theoretically be reprocessed into nuclear weapons grade material with Iranian centrifuges, and no formal agreement on the nuclear waste return agreement has yet been reached.

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