Bushehr Fuel Deal Shows There Is No Need for Iranian Enrichment
By Stephen Kaufman
IIP Staff Writer
12 September 2011
Washington — The Obama administration noted the official inauguration of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor and says the agreement by which Russia will be providing uranium for the facility as well as taking back its spent fuel “underscores the point that Iran doesn’t need its own enrichment facilities.”
Speaking to reporters in Washington September 12, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the deal with Russia shows that Iran “can receive fuel from the international community” to power its civilian nuclear program.
Representatives from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, China and the United States — collectively known as the P5+1 — have repeatedly tried to engage Iran on its nuclear activities over concerns that its stated civilian program is being used as a cover for a nuclear weapons program.
The P5+1 proposed a deal with Iran in October 2009 that would have provided Iran’s Tehran Research Reactor with enriched uranium fuel and would have required that the enrichment be done in another country to ensure that uranium would not be enriched to a level that could be used for nuclear weapons.
Iran ultimately rejected the offer, and has since declared that it is enriching its own uranium fuel supplies.
In remarks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in October 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Iran “is entitled to peaceful nuclear energy, but … it is not entitled to nuclear weapons.”
According to press reports, Iranian officials have said the 1,000-megawatt Bushehr nuclear plant has begun to generate 350–400 megawatts of electricity, or to 35 percent to 40 percent of the reactor’s full capacity, and will reach its full capacity by the end of 2011.
Nuland said the international community is looking to Russia to ensure that nuclear materials are not diverted from the facility and that it takes back the spent uranium fuel.
She also noted that with the opening of the nuclear plant, “Iran is now the only country in the world with an operating power reactor that has not ratified the Convention on Nuclear Safety.”
“In the wake of the Fukushima incident, this is quite troubling,” she said, referring to the nuclear accident in March at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in which reactor cores overheated and allowed radiation to escape the plant, forcing the evacuation of people in the surrounding area and tainting food supplies.
“More broadly, the Bushehr opening doesn’t change the fact that Iran still has to meet its larger obligations to the international community and the [International Atomic Energy Agency]” to fully disclose its nuclear activities, Nuland said.