Report: Russia Completes Shipment of Uranium to Iran

Russia has completed the shipment of uranium fuel for Iran's first nuclear plant, officials said Monday.

Irina Yesipova, a spokeswoman for Russia's state Atomstroiexport company in charge of building the nuclear plant in the southern port of Bushehr, said the eighth and final shipment of 9.5 tons of uranium fuel had been delivered overnight.

Iran received the first shipment of nuclear fuel from Russia on Dec. 17 after months of dispute between the two countries, allegedly over delayed construction payments for the reactor.

Overall, more than 132 tons of uranium fuel had been delivered, Yesipova said.

Iran has said Bushehr, the country's first nuclear reactor, will begin operating in the summer of 2008, producing half its 1,000-megawatt capacity of electricity.

Yesipova said that a firm date for the plant's launch hadn't been set yet. "It will be necessary to conduct complex work related to preparations for the launch with security being the top priority," she said.

The U.S. initially opposed Russia's contract for building the Bushehr reactor and supplying it with fuel, but later softened its position as Iran agreed to return spent nuclear fuel from the reactor to Russia to ensure it doesn't extract plutonium from it to make atomic bombs.

Russia's decision to ship nuclear fuel to Iran followed a U.S. intelligence report released last month that concluded Tehran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in late 2003 and had not resumed it since. Iran says it never had a weapons program.

The United States and Russia have said the supply of nuclear fuel means Iran has no need to continue its own uranium enrichment program — a process that can provide fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a bomb.

Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needed to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it was building in the southwestern town of Darkhovin.