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. Russia sees clear path for Iran reactor launch: report
MOSCOW, Oct 20 (AFP) Oct 20, 2008
Russia sees no political obstacles to the start-up of the first reactor at Iran's Russian-built nuclear plant at Bushehr, a senior Russian diplomat was quoted as saying Monday.

"From a political point of view, there are no problems with this," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the official ITAR-TASS news agency after visiting Tehran over the weekend.

"Right now, the final stages of preparing the station for launch are under way," he said, adding that there was no risk that Bushehr would help Iran obtain nuclear weapons.

"Among the six parties, there is a full understanding that the work at Bushehr has no proliferation risks," he said, referring to the six countries that have been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme.

The West suspects that Iran is developing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy programme that includes the Bushehr plant, an allegation vehemently denied by Tehran.

Russia has been helping Iran build the plant at Bushehr but the project has been beset by numerous delays.

A top Russian nuclear official said last month that the start-up of Bushehr's first reactor would be "irreversible" by February 2009.

Russia is among the six countries talking with Iran over the nuclear weapons issue, along with the United States, Britain, China, France and Germany. Moscow has resisted calls for tougher sanctions on Tehran.

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