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No Delay In Iran Bushehr Nuke Plant Opening

Iranian Foreign Minister Visit To Moscow Cancelled
Moscow (AFP) Nov 08 - Talks in Moscow on Iran's nuclear program between Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have been cancelled, the Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday. The visit, scheduled for November 9-10, "has been cancelled, nothing is taking place," a ministry official told AFP. He provided no details as to the reason for the cancellation. The talks were to have followed the UN Security Council's formal review this week of a European draft resolution mandating sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear fuel work.

Iran faces sanctions after spurning an August 31 Security Council deadline to halt its uranium enrichment program -- a process that can lead to the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.

by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Nov 09, 2006
Reports of a possible delay in launching the reactor Russia is building for Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr are unfounded, the Russian nuclear equipment export monopoly, Atomstroiexport, said Wednesday.

Atomstroiexport chief Sergei Shmatko said the NPP will be launched on schedule in September 2007, dismissing Tuesday's statement from a nuclear industry official who said the launch may be postponed if the Iranian side fails to meet some unspecified commitments.

Both announcements come ahead of the Iranian Foreign Minister's trip to Russia. Manouchehr Mottaki is due in Moscow Thursday for a two-day visit that will include talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

The Bushehr facility has been a source of international dispute in the context of Iran's controversial nuclear ambitions, with the United States and other Western countries raising concerns that Iran may use the project to develop nuclear weapons.

To assuage those concerns, Russia suggested earlier this year setting up a joint venture for enriching Iranian uranium on it soil. But the nuclear industry official said Tuesday that the idea may never materialize, citing lack of interest on Iran's part.

Following Tehran's refusal to halt its uranium enrichment activities in exchange for a package of incentives, European countries proposed a draft UN Security Council resolution introducing sanctions, including restrictions on nuclear fuel supplies to the Bushehr plant.

As a veto-wielding permanent Council member consistently defending Iran's right to generate nuclear power for civilian use, Russia spoke against the European draft and proposed amendments to soften it.

earlier related report
Khamenei Vows No Let-Up On Iran Nuclear Drive
Tehran (AFP) Nov 08 - Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday vowed Iran would press ahead on the "glorious path" of its nuclear programme, despite threats of UN sanctions. "Most countries in the world believe that nuclear energy should no longer be the monopoly of just some powers," Khamenei said a speech to thousands of people in the town of Semnan, east of Tehran.

"These countries from the bottom of their heart are hailing the Iranian nation which is standing courageously on this path.

"The Iranian nation will go forwards on this glorious path with power and by harnessing the abilities of its educated generation, which is growing day by day and challenging the notions of the West," he said in a speech broadcast on state television.

The United States is leading a drive at the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, but world powers are deadlocked over the text of the draft resolution.

Khamenei argued that it was completely wrong to suggest the world was against Iran's enriching uranium, a process that the West fears could be diverted towards making nuclear weapons.

"As you can see in nuclear energy -- about which they (the United States) are trying to make a fuss -- look how the world is perceiving us, especially the Asian and Middle East and Islamic nations.

"However, the Americans always close their eyes and then blurt out that the world is against Iranian enrichment," he said

"No, you (the United States) do not understand the world," he added.

His comments came after informal talks among six major UN powers ended overnight still deadlocked over how to punish Iran for its refusal to halt enrichment.

The draft mandates nuclear industry and ballistic missile-related trade sanctions against Tehran. It also calls for a freeze on assets related to Iran's nuclear and missile programs and travel bans on scientists involved in those programmes.

It has run into opposition from permanent UN Security Council members Russia and China, which have demanded substantial changes to it.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is solely aimed at generating energy, vehemently rejecting US allegations it is seeking nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, a hardline Iranian newspaper called on the government to slap sanctions on France, a major investor in Iran, before the United Nations came up with punitive action of its own.

"Let us set aside France from Iran's profitable market and show others that they should play by the book in economic relations with Iran," the Jomhouri Eslami newspaper said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Source: RIA Novosti

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India Halts Pakistan Border Goose-Stepping Ahead Of Talks
Wagah (AFP) India, Nov 8, 2006
Indian troops guarding the country's only land transit point to Pakistan have halted an aggressive military ceremony ahead of a resumption of talks next week, officials said Wednesday. When troops from the nuclear-armed rivals shut the Wagah border post every sunset, they usually do so with an elaborate ceremony involving a furious goose-step and the slamming of gates.

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