Russia Starts Iran Nuclear Deliveries
Russia has began delivery of nuclear fuel to Iran, defying UN resolutions calling on Iran to give up its nuclear enrichment program.
Russia on Monday announced the start of nuclear fuel deliveries for Iran’s first atomic power station, brushing aside US and Israeli claims that Tehran harbours secret bomb-making plans.
“On December 16, 2007, Atomstroiexport began delivery of the fuel for the initial installation at the future Bushehr power station,” the state-run corporation said in a statement. The delivery process will take up to two months to complete, Atomstroiexport said, with the Russian-built station starting to generate electricity in approximately six months time.
The still-unfinished Bushehr is the jewel in the crown of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nuclear power ambitions.
Iran confirmed the Russian shipment and in a fresh show of defiance toward the West, repeated that it would refuse UN demands to give up work on enriching uranium.
Israel and Western governments, led by the United States, have long argued that Iran’s civilian programme is being used as cover for a bomb-making project. Russia rejects this and Moscow’s position was bolstered earlier this month when the US intelligence community contradicted the White House by reporting that Iran had stopped a drive for nuclear weapons in 2003. The US report provided Russia with its “final argument,” Fyodor Lukyanov, at the journal Russia in Global Affairs, told AFP.
The Russian foreign ministry stressed in a statement that deliveries were made under control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It added that spent fuel from Bushehr would be “returned to Russia for reprocessing and storage” — part of a plan to ensure that the fuel does not go astray. IAEA officials monitored the sealing of the nuclear fuel two weeks ago at a factory in Novossibirsk ahead of the delivery.
The decision to send fuel — which in its current state is fit only for civilian use — marked a diplomatic victory for Russia, which has been building Bushehr since 1995. “The Russian-Iranian cooperation on the Bushehr power station visibly demonstrates that one can effectively and reliably guarantee the realisation of national plans on developing the civilian atomic energy sector,” the foreign ministry statement said.
This is further confirmation, if any were needed, that Putin is working to re-establish Russia as a regional power even if it comes at the cost of its relationship with the West. It should also throw cold water on the notion that the UN Security Council is going to emerge any time soon as a viable collective security regime while Russia and China have veto power.