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#6 - JRL 7215
BBC Monitoring
Russian TV casts critical eye over fears of nuclear arms in Iran
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1600 gmt 8 Jun 03

In a television interview, a Russian director in charge of the construction of Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran has described the idea that the Russian reactor there could be used by Iran to build nuclear weapons as "absurd" and "absolute nonsense". The following is excerpted from a report by Russia TV on 8 June:

[Presenter] Nuclear nonproliferation featured prominently in Evian [G8 summit]. In particular, the US view is that North Korea and Iran merit especial attention. The G8 leaders called on both states to stop their nuclear programmes.

The Russian leadership also wants all work on nuclear energy projects to be supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency. On Saturday [7 June], IAEA inspectors flew out to Tehran in order to continue with their inspections. At about the same time, however, Richard Boucher, official spokesman for the White House, stated that the US Administration already had at its disposal an IAEA report on Iran, by which - I quote - it was deeply alarmed. Boucher spoke about Iran's secret nuclear programme, which presents a serious danger.

Our correspondent Konstantin Semin beat the IAEA inspectors to Iran. There, a nuclear power plant is under construction in Bushehr where, regardless, our specialists are hard at work.

[Correspondent] Fitters, welders, scaffolders, crane operators, engineers, programmers, secretaries and chefs are bussed in to work. Work goes on in two shifts, and two languages - Russian and Farsi.

[Passage omitted: restaurant chefs at work; the history of the nuclear power plant, begun by Germany; plus an Iranian Atomic Energy Organization official says that Iran needs more energy.]

There are almost 1,500 of our compatriots here. They are not only from Russia. They come from more or less every nuclear power plant in the former Soviet Union.

[Passage omitted: a Russian worker identified only by his name says his wife refused to join him because of strict local customs; plus some of the customs - their observance part of the contract - detailed.]

Every new statement by the US Administration gives rise to a flurry of media comment. Newspapers are full of images of politicians. The nuclear power plant is no exception. It is a worry.

[Aleksandr Mironov, captioned as deputy chief of the administration for the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant] After all, we are all human. Umm-Qasr and all the rest of it is a mere 350 km away - within the range of a Tomahawk. And we all have families, children here.

[Correspondent] In fact, the distance that separates Bush from Bushehr is quite insignificant indeed. The US Navy in the Gulf is some 40 miles away. And although its aircraft carriers are there for quite another reason, the US has never suffered from an inability to find a reason to act.

[Passage omitted: the nuclear power plant shelled, damaged during Iran-Iraq war; plus the same Iranian official says the plant is in no danger while there are Russians there.]

Bushehr is yet to see a single nuclear component delivered there. Once spent, even its nuclear fuel will be taken back to Russia. There is nothing out of the ordinary about its reactor, either. It is a VVER-1000, of which Russia has many. And since it cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium, where would nuclear weapons come from?

[Viktor Stavbun, captioned as director with the directorate for the commissioning of the Bushehr nuclear power plant's No 1 unit] This is absurd. To do this, special enrichment factories must be built and special reactors, which produce plutonium. Any fool knows this, the more so the specialist. Those who know what nuclear weapons are and how they are made, this is absolute nonsense.

[Passage omitted: a local housing boom in view of plans for an exclusion zone round the plant and hopes of compensation once the local equivalent of compulsory purchase orders are enforced.]

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