Deal on Nuclear Units Could Encourage Flexibility

Deal on Nuclear Units Could Encourage FlexibilityDeal on Nuclear Units Could Encourage Flexibility

A US paper says a recent nuclear agreement between Iran and Russia on the construction of new nuclear power plant units in Bushehr and "the possibility of Iranian fuel production" could push the major powers to show flexibility in nuclear talks with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline to reach a long-term settlement on the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, by raising the possibility of Iranian fuel production, the Russians were telling the United States and its European allies "you guys better be flexible (in the negotiations) or we might allow Iran to get into the game of supplying its own nuclear fuel needs."

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and Russian state atomic agency Rosatom signed an agreement to build two new nuclear power plant units in the southern port city of Bushehr on Tuesday.

Moscow will also cooperate with Tehran on the construction of more nuclear power plants and consider producing nuclear fuel components there under the agreement.

Iran already runs one Russian-built reactor in the Bushehr power plant which generates 1,000 megawatts of electricity. The plant, whose construction was delayed for years, was officially launched in September 2011.

The Los Angeles Times also claims the announcement that the Russian company intended to discuss with Tehran "the feasibility of fabricating fuel rods in Iran, which will be used at these power units," could undermine efforts by the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) aiming to prevent Iran from building a nuclear infrastructure and someday gaining the capacity to build a bomb."

The West has claimed that Iran may have been seeking to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program. Tehran denies the allegation, saying its nuclear work is meant only for peaceful purposes, such as electricity generation and medical treatments.

Iran and representatives of the P5+1 wrapped up three days of talks on Tuesday in Muscat, Oman. They will meet again on November 18 in Vienna to make a last-ditch effort to bridge the remaining gaps in the negotiating positions to strike a comprehensive deal.