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#14 - JRL 2006-249 - JRL Home
Pundit describes Bushehr as "bargaining chip" in Russian-US dialogue

Moscow, 5 November: The USA may use the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power station [NPS] as a bargaining chip at the talks with Moscow on various aspects of the Iranian nuclear problem, according to Ivan Safranchuk, the head of the Russian mission at the international centre for defence information.

He said there were three possible moments when the subject of the Bushehr NPS might come up in the Russian-US dialogue.

"The first is an exchange for sanctions: the toughening of the American position in order to have Russia accept it when the latter is moderated later," Safranchuk told Interfax.

He said Iran had a hypothetical possibility to turn the nuclear fuel of the Bushehr NPS into weapons plutonium. At the same time, Safranchuk recalled that Russia had taken measures to prevent such a development by setting two conditions for completing the construction in Bushehr. The first is for Iran to join the IAEA Protocol on Additional Guarantees of 1993 which provides for the IAEA to carry out more extensive, profound and surprise inspections. The second condition is that Iran should return spent nuclear fuel. However, added the political analyst, before the fuel is returned, for a certain amount of time - about four years - it will remain in temporary storage in Iran.

"Hypothetically, of course, during that period of time Iran may use the fuel for wrong purposes but such a move would be so transparent that it would immediately provoke an appropriate reaction from the international community and sanctions," Safranchuk said. Therefore, according to him, if the talk will now start of abrogating the Russian-Iranian contract for the construction of the Bushehr NPS, it would be clear that "this card is being used as a means of putting pressure for political bargaining".

Besides, according to him, Washington might try to go back to the subject of the Bushehr NPS in order to prevent Russia and Iran from concluding new nuclear contracts.

The analyst also recalled the statement made by the head of Rosatom [Federal Agency for Atomic Energy], Sergey Kiriyenko, who said that in the autumn of next year Russia will supply to Iran fuel for the Bushehr NPS.

"Delays in the construction of the Bushehr NPS suited everyone - the contract was being carried out, Russia was being paid but without fuel the Bushehr NPS is just empty metal," the analyst said. However, in his opinion, after Moscow set up the date for supplying fuel the situation changed: while the Iranian nuclear programme issues are not clarified Tehran will be receiving fuel for the Bushehr NPS.

"This, too, forces the USA to go back to the Bushehr subject: the USA was happy with the project being delayed but not with the prospect of the construction being completed," Safranchuk said.