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. New delivery of Russian nuclear fuel to Iran: official
TEHRAN, Jan 18 (AFP) Jan 18, 2008
Russia Friday delivered a third consignment of fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station, the official news agency IRNA reported.

"The third load of fuel arrived Friday morning at the Bushehr site" in the south of the country, IRNA quoted the Organization for Production and Development of Nuclear Energy as saying in a statement.

Like the first two consignments, the third weighed 11 tonnes. The five loads to come "will be delivered to Iran under the foreseen calendar," the statement added.

Russia is to deliver a total of some 82 tonnes of nuclear fuel in eight consignments over a two-month period. The first and second loads were delivered on December 17 and 28.

Iran insisted on December 30 that its first nuclear power station would be launched in the summer of 2008, despite the plant's Russian constructors saying it would not go on line until the end of the year.

"The Bushehr nuclear power station will launch at a capacity of 50 percent next summer," said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, quoted by IRNA.

A Russian contractor is finishing the construction of the much-delayed 1,000-megawatt plant in the southern city of Bushehr. Moscow also agreed to deliver the nuclear fuel required by the facility.

A spokeswoman for the Russian contractor Atomstroiexport said earlier that it would take at least a year to launch the power station.

"We can predict that the Bushehr station will be launched no earlier than the end of 2008 due to the current situation," Irina Yesipova said on December 20.

The Bushehr project has suffered a series of delays since it was started in the 1970s under the ousted shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi using engineers from German engineering firm Siemens.

It was shelved in the first decade after the 1979 Islamic revolution but then resurrected in 1995 when Russia agreed to build and fuel the plant. Even then the deadline for the station's launch was repeatedly put back.

But now it appears the plant is finally on the verge of completion.

Russia is pressing on with the completion of the power station despite Western concerns about Iran's insistence on using uranium enrichment to make its own nuclear fuel for use in future home-built power plants.

Western powers fear Iran could use uranium enrichment technology to make a nuclear bomb, but Tehran insists it only wants to generate electricity for a growing population whose fossil fuels will eventually run out.

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