13:08 GMT +322 September 2017

    Russia dismisses fears of Iran's arms-grade uranium

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    The Russian defense minister said Friday he is not worried Iran could acquire weapons-grade uranium.

    MOSCOW, October 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian defense minister said Friday he is not worried Iran could acquire weapons-grade uranium.

    Iran said earlier Friday it has launched a second cascade of gas centrifuges to enrich uranium. The Islamic Republic's plan to launch its second nuclear centrifuge cascade was announced earlier this week and was confirmed by the UN nuclear watchdog chief, Mohammed ElBaradei.

    "I do not share those fears, because I know the situation," said Sergei Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister. "Iran has launched a second cascade of centrifuges, and this process is fully controlled by the IAEA."

    He said the centrifuges are working in a test mode and are not being used for uranium enrichment.

    "It is at least premature to talk about uranium enrichment in Iran," he said.

    Iran has been at the center of an international dispute this year over its nuclear ambitions. Some countries suspect the Islamic Republic of pursuing a covert weapons program, but Tehran has consistently denied the claims and says it needs nuclear energy for civilian needs.

    The United States has called on Russia to halt work on the Bushehr nuclear power plant, but Russia has consistently rejected the demands, citing Iran's right to nuclear power under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Britain, France, and Germany earlier this week proposed sanctions against the Islamic Republic that would limit the Bushehr project but not stop it.

    Atomstroiexport is building Bushehr's first power unit under a $1 billion contract signed by Russia and Iran in 1995. The NPP, which is being constructed under the supervision of the IAEA, was originally scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2006.

    Russia's nuclear chief Sergei Kiriyenko said last month the Bushehr NPP will be commissioned in September 2007, and that power generation will begin two months later. In September 2006, Russia agreed to supply fuel for the plant in March 2007, in time for its commissioning.

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