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    RUSSIAN SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL WILL BE RETURNED FROM IRAN TO RUSSIA

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    TEHRAN, February 6 (RIA Novosti, Nikolai Terekhov) - Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi announced that Russia and Iran reached mutual understanding on the issue of the return of spent nuclear fuel from the Bushehr nuclear power plant to Russia.

    "The Russian and Iranian sides have reached understanding on the issue of the return of spent nuclear fuel, which will be supplied by Russia for the first power generating plant of the Bushehr nuclear power plant," Mr. Assefi told journalists on Sunday.

    According to the Iranian official, "all we have to do now is to prepare and sign an official agreement between Russia and Iran on the return of spent nuclear fuel."

    "Experts are nearing the final stages of the solution of this issue," the Iranian diplomat added.

    The construction of the first power generating plant at the Bushehr nuclear power plant by Russian specialists is one of the key cooperation projects between Moscow and Tehran in the economic and scientific-technical sphere. The construction is entering its final stage at present. The initial launch of the facility with an estimated power-generation capacity of 1,000 Megawatts is scheduled for the end of 2005. It will become fully operational in the beginning of 2006.

    It is expected that head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev will travel to the Iranian capital in February-March to sign the Russian-Iranian agreement on the return of spent nuclear fuel.

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