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December 18, 2007
Russia delivers Nuclear Fuel to Iran
Thanks to the breakdown of the sanctions regime as a result of the NIE findings on Iran, Russia eagerly made delivery of the nuclear fuel Iran is to use in its Russian built in Bushehr reactor:
In announcing that it had delivered the first shipment of enriched-uranium fuel rods to the power plant, at Bushehr in southern Iran, on Sunday, Russian officials said that while the fuel was in Iran, it would be under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitoring agency for the United Nations. Russia also said the Iranian government had guaranteed that the fuel would be used only for the power plant. Well, that's one way to spin it. Another way might be to say that the IAEA doesn't know it's head from a hole in the wall and can't be trusted with such a sensitive task. The Iranians have already shown a tremendous resistance to the kind of monitoring that would be necessary to keep track of the fuel to make sure it doesn't end up being enriched further to produce bomb grade material.
The Bush administration took pains not to criticize the Russian move publicly, even expressing support for outside supplies if that led Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.
“If the Russians are willing to do that, which I support, then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich,” President Bush said Monday.
“If the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there’s no need for them to learn how to enrich.”
But that said, this is a small step in the right direction. The UN has made it clear that it does not want to prevent Iran from developing peaceful nuclear power but rather the enrichment of uranium must cease - at the very least until all aspects of the Iranian program are transparently revealed and international safeguards are in place to make sure that Iran does not use its knowledge of the fuel cycle to build a bomb.
This goal has been made much harder because of the Iran NIE. And it not clear whether the international community has the will to confront the Iranians and make them play by the rules.