RUSSIA is to begin supplying Iran with nuclear fuel early next year despite mounting concern in the West that this could accelerate Tehran’s plans to build a nuclear bomb.
Sergei Shmatko, head of Atomstroyexport, Russia’s state nuclear fuel exporter, said last week that preparations to send fuel to Iran would start next month and the first consignment was expected to reach the Islamic republic in early spring.
The announcement, at a time when Russia is asserting itself as an energy power, has caused anxiety in western countries which are trying to convince the Kremlin to end its nuclear co-operation with Tehran.
The concerns were strengthened yesterday when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reported to have told a Kuwaiti envoy that Iran was ready to transfer its nuclear technology to neighbouring countries.
The nuclear fuel will be sent to Bushehr, Iran’s first nuclear power station, which has been built by Russia over the past decade as part of a Â£450m contract. Iran says the plant will be used to produce energy and that its nuclear programme is solely for civilian purposes.
Officially at least Moscow accepts the claim. The West has little doubt that Tehran’s real aim is to build a nuclear bomb and is afraid that as a nuclear power Iran would threaten Israel and destabilise the region.