Saturday, June 11, 2005

Russia's Entente With Iran May Backfire

Russia has helped Iran to build a nuclear power plant and has agreed to supply plutonium to fuel it. The United States is opposed to the deal because the spent fuel can be used to manufacture weapons-grade plutonium.

Under the accord between Russia and Iran signed in February, Russia will supply nearly 100 tons of nuclear fuel for the massive plutonium reactor it helped build near the southwestern Iranian city of Bushehr. Iran has agreed to return spent nuclear fuel rods to Russia to ensure they will not be converted for military use. But Ilan Berman, an analyst at the American Foreign Policy Council, says the Bushehr power plant is only a public face for a more comprehensive Iranian nuclear program.

“What the Russians are doing with Iran in Bushehr is very much a footnote to the larger Iranian development effort, says Mr. Berman. "That development effort is moving forward as a result of the assistance of Russian scientists and the help that Russia has provided in the past to the Iranian nuclear program. But the Bushehr facility is in many ways the smokescreen for this because Busher will be, more than anything else in the nuclear program, subject to international scrutiny. But other facilities where cooperation is going on will not.”

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