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In this file photo from 2009 released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Iranian technicians, work with foreign colleagues at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, just outside the southern port city of Bushehr, Iran.

Russia to fuel Iran's first nuclear reactor

Plant starts receiving charged material next week.

RUSSIA HAS ANNOUNCED it will help Iran to get its first nuclear power station up and running by loading low-enriched uranium into the plant next week.

The process of loading the material will begin on 21 August, and should take two to three weeks.

A spokesman for the Russian atomic agency, Rosatom, said today:

The fuel will be charged in the reactor on August 21. From this moment, Bushehr will be considered a nuclear installation. This will be an irreversible step.

Russia built the power station in Bushehr, Iran, on the site of a project begun by Siemens in the 1970s. Under the agreement with Iran, spent fuel rods (which could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium) must be returned to Russia.

The news is bound to disappoint America, which has been pushing to prevent the development of Iran’s nuclear programme. Two prominent Iranian dissidents have disagreed with international sanctions against Iran, suggesting that they have helped President Ahmadinejad’s regime to grow stronger.

The dissidents, one of whom was the losing candidate in last year’s presidential elections, say that the sanctions are only affecting the most vulnerable members of Iranian society.

The first nuclear reaction at the Bushehr power plant is expected to take place in early October. Iran says that inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency will be invited.

[caption id="attachment_11460" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="AP Photo/ISNA,Mehdi Ghasemi"][/caption]