By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press
BUSHEHR, Iran â€“ Iranian and Russian nuclear technicians made final preparations to start up Iran’s first reactor on Saturday after years of delays, an operation that will mark a milestone in what Tehran considers its right to produce nuclear energy.
Nationwide celebrations are planned for the fuel loading at the Bushehr facility in southern Iran, while Russia pledges to safeguard the plant and prevent spent nuclear fuel from being shifted to a possible weapons program.
“The startup operations will be a big success for Iran,” conservative lawmaker Javad Karimi said in Tehran. “It also shows Iran’s resolve and capability in pursuing its nuclear activities.”
The West has not sought to block the reactor startup as part of its confrontations over Iran’s nuclear agenda, a clash that has resulted in repeated rounds of U.N. sanctions against Tehran. Washington and other nations do not specifically object to Tehran’s ability to build peaceful reactors that are under international scrutiny.
However, it is seen by hard-liners as defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions that seek to slow Iran’s nuclear advances â€” which Tehran’s foes worry could eventually push toward atomic weapons.
What concerns America and others â€” including Russia â€” is Iran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make fuel for nuclear arms.
Russia now must follow through with its agreements, signed by Iran, to remove all spent fuel at Bushehr and ship it back to Russia for reprocessing. That’s would make it impossible for Iran to use plutonium, contained in the spent fuel, for nuclear weapons. Iran has said U.N. nuclear agency experts will be able to verify none of the waste is diverted.
To read more visit: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100820/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_nuclear
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