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. Russia to deliver nuclear fuel to Iran
MOSCOW, Dec 12 (AFP) Dec 12, 2006
Moscow plans on delivering fuel in March for Iran's first atomic power plant amid heightened international debate over Tehran's nuclear program, Russian state monopoly Atomstroiexport told Russian news agencies Tuesday.

"We plan to launch preliminary work in January to deliver fuel in March," Serguei Chmatko, head of Atomstroiexport, was quoted by the Ria Novosti agency as saying.

Chmatko said the nuclear fuel would be delivered on schedule to the southern plant of Bushehr, six months before its expected opening in September, 2007.

Moscow cinched a deal with Tehran in 1995 to build Bushehr, but the project has faced delays -- partly due to suspicions by Washington that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

Under a separate agreement signed last year, Russia would provide nuclear fuel to Iran and ferry back spent fuel to prevent it from being diverted into a weapons program.

Tehran also consented to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor Bushehr and the fuel deliveries.

Russia is part of a group of six world powers mulling United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

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