Reuters: Russia will sign a deal with Iran next week to start nuclear fuel shipments for the Russian-built reactor there, an Iranian official said on Thursday. The United States, which accuses Iran of secretly working to develop nuclear weapons, has long called on Russia to avoid supplying the Islamic state with nuclear fuel.
Reuters

TEHRAN - Russia will sign a deal with Iran next week to start nuclear fuel shipments for the Russian-built reactor there, an Iranian official said on Thursday.

The United States, which accuses Iran of secretly working to develop nuclear weapons, has long called on Russia to avoid supplying the Islamic state with nuclear fuel.

"A fuel deal for the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be signed on Feb. 26," Assadollah Sabouri, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, told state television.

The comments indicated that the two countries had settled disagreements over the terms of their accord after years of negotiations.

Oil-rich Iran denies that it is developing nuclear arms and says its programme is solely for generating electricity.

Israel said on Wednesday that Iran was just six months away from having the knowledge to build nuclear weapons.

Sabouri said Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, would travel to Iran to sign the deal.

A source at the agency said this month that the first fuel containers would be supplied about two months after the signing.

The 1,000-megawatt Bushehr reactor, Iran's only nuclear power plant, is due to start up in late 2005 and reach full capacity in 2006.

Spent fuel will be sent back to Siberian storage units after about a decade of use -- a condition Russia thinks should allay U.S. concerns that Iran could use the material to make weapons.

The European Union, represented by France, Britain and Germany, has been trying to persuade Iran to scrap potentially weapons-related activities in return for economic incentives.

But Iran has repeatedly said it will never permanently end its disputed nuclear activities.