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    Iran to continue uranium enrichment despite Russian fuel supplies

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    Iran will carry on with uranium enrichment operations despite nuclear fuel supplies from Russia, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

    TEHRAN, December 24 (RIA Novosti) - Iran will carry on with uranium enrichment operations despite nuclear fuel supplies from Russia, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

    Moscow announced the start of nuclear fuel deliveries to Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, which Russian contractor Atomstroyexport is building in southern Iran, on December 17.

    "As for the supplies of nuclear fuel from Russia, we have a uranium enrichment center in Natanz which will provide nuclear fuel for all Iranian nuclear power plants. These nuclear power plants will be built in line with our [Iranian] 20-year plan," Mohammad Ali Hosseini said.

    In line with the plan, Tehran is expected to announce soon a tender for the construction of 19 new 1,000-mWt nuclear power plants in the Islamic Republic.

    Russian nuclear fuel deliveries to the plant are to continue into February 2008.

    Spent Russian fuel is to be re-exported for reprocessing and storage, according to the agreement. In Iran, the nuclear fuel will be under control of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    The United States and other Western powers have pushed for measures to force Tehran to halt uranium enrichment, which is used in both electricity generation and weapons production.

    The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), published on December 3, stated that Tehran had put a stop to weapons production in 2003, although it was continuing to enrich uranium.

    The report contradicted a previous U.S. intelligence assessment in 2005 which said that the Islamic Republic was actively pursuing a nuclear bomb.

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