Russia Ships Nuclear Fuel to Iran

December 17, 2007

Russia has delivered its first shipment of nuclear fuel to a reactor it is helping to build at Bushehr in Iran, The BBC reported on Monday, quoting Russian foreign ministry.

The delivery began on Monday, Russia's Atomstroiexport corporation said.

The corporation announced that it had begun deliveries of nuclear fuel "on December 16, 2007, for the initial installation at the future Bushehr power station."
The delivery process will take up to two months to complete, Atomostroiexport said.

Bushehr nuclear power plant is to start generating electricity approximately six months after the first delivery of fuel.

Russian foreign ministry stressed in a statement that the deliveries were being conducted under control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and that the spent fuel from Bushehr would be "returned to Russia for reprocessing and storage."
A total of 163 main and 17 reserve assemblies of U-235 enriched to 3.62 percent would be delivered for the first loading, the company added.

During an inspection in late November, experts from the UN atomic watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Russian nuclear specialists have checked and sealed those nuclear fuel containers for delivery to Iran at a Siberian chemical plant.

Bushehr, the first Iranian nuclear power plant, had been expected to start operation in September 2007.

But the start-up has been delayed and the project remains under construction due to a dispute between Russian contractors and Iran over the terms of payment.

Russia and Iran reached an agreement earlier this month that paved the way for the delivery of nuclear fuel.

Russia's foreign ministry said it had received assurances from Tehran that the fuel would not be used anywhere but at Bushehr.