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. Russian producer ready to ship nuclear fuel to Iran
MOSCOW (AFP) Mar 11, 2005
Russia's chemical plant in south-west Siberia is set to ship nuclear fuel for Iran's Bushehr power station that Russia is constructing despite US protests, the Interfax news agency reported late Thursday.

"The fuel has been manufactured and is stored at the plant, to be delivered at demand," the factory's chairman Vladimir Razin told reporters, adding that 168 fuel assemblies would be required to run the reactor.

Many countries are concerned that Iran could use a civilian nuclear power program as cover for clandestine efforts to develop the capacity to build nuclear weapons, an effort which would require capacity for enriching uranium to weapons-grade level.

Under the deal signed last month at Bushehr, the site in Iran of the country's first civilian nuclear power station still under construction, Iran agreed to return immediately to Russia all nuclear fuel after it has been spent in civilian reactors.

Germany, Britain and France -- the "EU-3" -- are pursuing efforts to persuade Iran through diplomatic pressure to drop any uranium enrichment ambitions. The United States has taken a tougher line, refusing to rule out military strikes against suspected nuclear weapons development facilities.

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