Reuters: Kuwait, just across Gulf waters from Iran, wants more assurances from the Islamic Republic about the safety of its first nuclear power reactor which Tehran has started fuelling up, its foreign minister said.
KUWAIT, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Kuwait, just across Gulf waters from Iran, wants more assurances from the Islamic Republic about the safety of its first nuclear power reactor which Tehran has started fuelling up, its foreign minister said.
Tehran began loading fuel on Saturday into the Bushehr plant, a potent symbol of Iran’s growing regional sway and its rejection of international sanctions designed to prevent it building a nuclear bomb. Tehran denies any such intention.
“We received assurances from Iran in addition to Russian assurances that the technology used in that plant is top notch,” Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA quoted Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Salem al-Sabah as saying late on Tuesday.
“But I remain worried that a nuclear plant is so close to me, whether it is in Iran or any other location. That is why we want to be reassured that the technology used is top of the line.”
Kuwait, an OPEC member, fears any accidents at the reactor could pollute Gulf waters. Analysts have long said Kuwait also worries about the potential environmental effects of any Western or Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
A U.N. nuclear watchdog review published in March gave good marks to Bushehr’s safety regulations but also urged Tehran to join global conventions on nuclear safety, including one dealing with radioactive waste management.
Russia designed and built the Bushehr plant and will supply its fuel. To ease nuclear proliferation concerns, it will take back spent fuel rods to prevent any chance of them being reprocessed to yield weapons-grade plutonium.
Washington has criticised Moscow for pushing ahead with Bushehr despite Iranian defiance over its secretive nuclear programme. But a U.S. State Department spokesman has said Washington did not view the reactor as a proliferation risk.
Iran is under four rounds of U.N. sanctions because of fears that its uranium enrichment programme, which is separate from Bushehr, is aimed at developing nuclear weapons capability. Tehran insists its enrichment work is for peaceful energy only.
Bushehr’s launch is a milestone on Iran’s path to harness technology that it says will reduce consumption of its abundant fossil fuels. It says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, and aimed at allowing it to export more oil and gas and prepare for the day when mineral riches dry up.
Iran’s arch-enemy Israel, widely assumed to be the only Middle East country to have nuclear weapons, has said a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence. Its stance has raised concerns it could attack Iran’s nuclear sites.
Kuwait’s own ties with Iran soured during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war because of Kuwait’s financial backing of Baghdad’s war effort, but relations have since improved. (Reporting by Diana Elias; Editing by Mark Heinrich)