Iran Nuclear NewsRussia, Iran sign nuclear plant protocol

Russia, Iran sign nuclear plant protocol

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AP: Tehran agreed Sunday to a financing plan for the remaining construction of a nuclear power plant near Iran’s southern port of Bushehr, the state-run Russian company leading the project said. Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) – Tehran agreed Sunday to a financing plan for the remaining construction of a nuclear power plant near Iran’s southern port of Bushehr, the state-run Russian company leading the project said.

Amid Iran’s defiance of international pressure to halt uranium enrichment activities, Russia earlier this year delayed the launch of the plant, which had been set for September, saying Tehran was behind scheduled on payments.

The international community fears Iran could be seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its uranium enrichment is meant only for nuclear energy purposes.

Iranian officials denied any payment delays under the $1 billion contract and accused Russia of caving in to Western pressure. Moscow has cultivated close ties with Iran but has supported limited U.N. sanctions against Tehran recently, while warding off U.S. efforts to level harsher punishments.

Irina Yesipova, a spokeswoman for the Russian company Atomstroiexport, suggested the protocol signed Sunday in Moscow marked strong progress, but that some issues still remained and more talks would be held next month.

“If the financing plan is successfully implemented, a portion of the questions on the financing of Iran’s first atomic power station plant will be removed,” she said.

Russia and Iran have had warm ties, with Russian President Vladimir Putin seeking to maintain profitable relationships with other nations and counter U.S. global clout.

But Iran has irritated Moscow by turning a cold shoulder to its efforts to resolve the persistent confrontation over its nuclear program, including an offer to enrich uranium for Iranian plants in Russia, which could provide Iran with nuclear fuel while easing concerns it might develop weapons.

Russia and China joined the rest of the U.N. Security Council last month in voting to impose new sanctions – the second set of penalties in three months against Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

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