Russia says ready for more nuclear cooperation with Iran

AFP , Sunday 11 Sep 2011

Russian energy minister Sergei Shmatko on Sunday promised further nuclear cooperation with Iran, after building the Islamic republic's first atomic power plant despite US objections

nuclear big
Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran (Reuters)

Russian energy minister, Sergei Shmatko stated, "I say with certainty that in the future, we will have more cooperation in the Bushehr power plant, and also in the development of other projects in the field of nuclear energy," at a press conference with Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

"I think this (cooperation) is in the interest of the Iranian people," Shmatko added, without giving a timetable for future projects or saying whether they would include new power plants.

The Bushehr plant was linked to the national grid early this month, and on Monday Tehran has organised a ceremony to mark the plant reaching 40 percent of its 1,000 megawatts capacity.

The plant was formally inaugurated in August 2010, but the reactor began operation in May.

The Islamic republic's atomic chief, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, said in August that Tehran and Moscow had held negotiations for further nuclear cooperation, and that Russia had made "proposals" to build new nuclear power plants in Iran.

He did not provide details, and Moscow had not confirmed the information.

On Sunday, Shmatko said "nuclear energy was having a difficult time in the world, particularly after the incident" in Fukushima, Japan.

"We should realise that this cooperation should reflect new safety measures as required in nuclear projects around the world," he added.

Both Iranian and Russian officials have repeatedly cited security considerations to justify repeated delays in the commissioning of the Bushehr plant.

The delays have even provoked criticism from the Iranian side, with some officials openly accusing Moscow of stalling in the face of pressure from the United States, which tried in vain to halt the project.

Construction of the plant started in the 1970s with the help of German company Siemens, which quit the project after the 1979 Islamic revolution over concerns about nuclear proliferation.

In 1994, Russia agreed to complete the plant and provide fuel for it, with the supply deal committing Iran to returning the spent fuel, amid Western concerns over the Islamic republic's controversial uranium enrichment programme.

Short link: