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Iran Asks Russia to Jointly Produce Nuclear Fuel

Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Iran’s government has asked Russia to turn the production of reactor fuel for a new Iranian power plant into a joint project that may supply similar facilities planned across the Persian Gulf nation, Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi said.

“We have offered to set up a consortium with Russia, so that part of the work is led in Russia and part in Iran,” Salehi, who heads Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying today in Tehran by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. “Russia is currently reviewing the proposal.”

Irina Yesipova, spokeswoman for the Russian Energy Ministry, referred all questions about nuclear-fuel production to Moscow-based Rosatom Corp., the state-owned nuclear holding company. Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov didn’t answer his mobile phone when called for comment.

Russian engineers started a 1,000-megawatt power reactor near the southern Iranian city of Bushehr on Aug. 21, making Iran the first country in the Persian Gulf region with a nuclear-energy facility. Under Iran’s agreement with Rosatom, the company will supply uranium for the Bushehr plant and take away spent fuel.

The United Nations passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in June over its nuclear work, which the U.S. and many of its allies say may be cover for a weapons program. At concentrations beyond reactor-grade, enriched uranium can form the core of a bomb. Iran, a signatory to the global nuclear Non-Proliferation-Treaty, says it needs the technology to generate electricity for a growing population.

Iran aims to build enough nuclear plants to produce 20,000 megawatts of power within 20 years. It says it is not opposed to using an outside source of fuel for the projects, while keeping open the option of producing its own supply. While Iranian officials have said they’ve enriched uranium to reactor-grade, they haven’t yet produced the material in a form usable in a power station.

Iran needs to “show the world community that it is capable of transforming uranium into nuclear fuel,” Salehi said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Tehran at lnasseri@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maher Chmaytelli at mchmaytelli@bloomberg.net

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