Iran says Bushehr delays show need for enrichment

BUSHEHR, Iran Tue Apr 3, 2007 5:09am EDT

A file photo of a technician checking valves at the uranium conversian facility in Isfahan, 450 km south of Tehran, February 3, 2007. Iran said on Tuesday that any decision by Russia not to deliver atomic fuel to its first nuclear power station would show Tehran was right to press on with work to make its own fuel. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

A file photo of a technician checking valves at the uranium conversian facility in Isfahan, 450 km south of Tehran, February 3, 2007. Iran said on Tuesday that any decision by Russia not to deliver atomic fuel to its first nuclear power station would show Tehran was right to press on with work to make its own fuel.

Credit: Reuters/Caren Firouz

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BUSHEHR, Iran (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday that any decision by Russia not to deliver atomic fuel to its first nuclear power station would show Tehran was right to press on with work to make its own fuel.

Russia is building the atomic plant in Iran's southwestern port city of Bushehr but did not deliver fuel as planned in March because of what it says were delayed payments by Iran. Tehran has said it is up to date with its commitments.

Iran's own enrichment program to make fuel for power plants is at the centre of a row with the West which believes Tehran secretly wants to enrich uranium to levels which could be used to make material for nuclear bombs. Tehran denies this.

"If the Russians do not want to deliver the fuel to us it will prove the issue that we should seriously follow enrichment ourselves," Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, told reporters.

He said "financial obstacles have been solved" in the dispute with Russia. Russian officials said last month that Iran had resumed payments to Russia for the power plant construction but said Tehran was still in arrears.

Aghazadeh was speaking during a tour of the Bushehr plant, which is surrounded by anti-aircraft guns.

The plant, after years of delays, was to be finished in September but the row has postponed that further.

Western powers persuaded the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran after it refused to halt uranium enrichment, which remains at the research stage but Iran plans to ramp it up to "industrial-scale" enrichment later this year.

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