Russia delays Iranian reactor, Turkey awaits response on uranium storage
Moscow (UPI) Nov 16, 2009
Russia said the launch of a nuclear power plant it is building in Iran will be delayed, in a move observers say is linked to the slow progress in the nuclear conflict with the Islamic Republic.
"We expect serious results by the end of the year, but the launch itself will not take place," Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko was quoted by the BBC as saying. "The engineers have to reach their findings."
The plant at Bushehr in southern Iran was due to go online by the end of this year.
The minister said the plant's construction at Bushehr in southern Iran "is defined absolutely 100 percent by technological conditions," but observers believe the delay is due to the stalemate in the conflict over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Monday issued a report critical of Iran after officials there in September unveiled a previously secret enrichment site that is being built around 20 miles north of Qom.
The revelation increased doubts that there are no more other secret sites, the IAEA said, "and gives rise to questions about whether there were any other nuclear facilities in Iran which had not been declared."
Russia and the United States over the weekend warned Iran not to ignore a recent compromise proposal that would keep negotiations running.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in Singapore that he was unhappy about Iran's seeming unwillingness to agree to a plan drafted by the West aimed at removing concerns that the Iranian civil nuclear energy program was a cover to make nuclear weapons.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, after talks with Obama on Sunday, urged Iran to accept an offer to have its uranium enriched in Russia and France or face further diplomatic consequences.
Backed by the consent of Washington, Moscow and Paris, the United Nations has put forward a proposal to have a major share of Iran's low-level uranium sent to Russia for processing. The processed uranium would then go to France, where the country's nuclear industry would convert it into fuel rods for use in Iranian reactors. However, Tehran has missed a deadline to respond to the proposal.
Obama after the start of his presidency offered Iran direct negotiations regarding its nuclear program; he has previously said that Tehran needed to prove it is willing to find a compromise in the conflict by the end of the year.
The Bushehr plant will feature two pressurized water reactors and is estimated to cost around $1 billion. The uranium used there will be imported from Russia and also returned there to make sure it is not used to build a nuclear weapon.
Work at the facility was begun in 1974 with German aid, but the project was terminated after the Islamic revolution of 1979.
earlier related report
"The Iranians trust us... but there is a great opposition within Iran. They say the problem is not Turkey, but the fact that the uranium will be taken abroad," the mass-selling Hurriyet daily quoted Ahmet Davutoglu as saying.
"From our point of view, the door is open. We will store that (the uranium) as a kind of a trustee," he told reporters accompanying him on a trip to Spain.
The proposal is part of efforts to ease Western fears that Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at building an atomic bomb.
Addressing a business forum in Madrid on Monday, Davutoglu said there had "recently been a new proposal..., whether Turkey could play a role for the exchange of these different levels of enriched uranium. We are looking at this in a very positive manner."
He said he spoke with Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), following a visit to Turkey by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week.
"We hope that there could be a creative solution, and such a solution as a first step would help to overcome the psychological barrier.
"What we expect from everybody now is to make this a technical process of negotiation rather than an issue of political rhetoric or mutual statements which may harm the process."
Last week, the New York Times reported that the US administration had told Iran that it is willing to allow the country to send its uranium stockpile to any of several nations, including Turkey, for safekeeping.
Citing unnamed administration officials and diplomats, the newspaper said the overtures had been made through the IAEA, with ElBaradei acting as the intermediary.
But Iran has ignored all of the proposals, it said.
Under a plan put forward by the IAEA on October 21, Iran would ship out its low-enriched uranium, equivalent to more than 70 percent of its estimated stocks, and Russia would further enrich it before France turned it into fuel for a Tehran reactor.
The proposals are designed to assuage fears that Iran could otherwise divert some of the stocks and enrich them further to the much higher levels of purity required to make an atomic bomb.
World powers have endorsed the plan but Iran, which insists its nuclear programme is peaceful, has yet to give a final response.
Davutoglu on Monday praised "the new approach of President Obama which is a real window of opportunity" which could allow a solution diplomatic means.
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Copenhagen (AFP) Nov 16, 2009
Six Greenpeace activists Monday boarded a ship carrying French-made steam turbines bound for a new nuclear power station in Finland, the environmental group said. The protestors climbed on board the Happy Ranger as it made its way through the Fehmarn Belt strait between Denmark and Germany and unfurled banners including one which read "Nuclear madness, made in France". Greenpeace wants ... read more
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