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Russia Sends Nuclear Fuel To Iran

Russia has delivered the first shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran’s Bushehr power station. Under a 2005 agreement, the spent nuclear fuel, which will contain plutonium, will be returned to Russia to prevent Iran from using it to produce nuclear weapons.

President George W. Bush says he supports the move by Moscow, which is permitted under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737:

“If the Russians are willing to do that – which I support -- then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich [uranium]. If the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there’s no need for them to learn how to enrich.”

Mr. Bush says that Iran remains a threat because its government refuses to comply with the demands of the United Nations to suspend its proliferation sensitive nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment. Uranium enrichment can be used to produce the fissile material for a nuclear bomb, as well as the fuel for a civilian energy program.

A recent U.S. intelligence report concluded that Iran had been engaged in a secret nuclear weapons program for years, but halted it in 2003 under international scrutiny and pressure. Nevertheless, Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which is continuing, is the element that takes the longest time of any nuclear weapons program. President Bush says Iran remains dangerous:

“I believe with a weapon they would be very destabilizing. I believe with a weapon we need to take their threats seriously about what they have said about one of our allies, Israel. And therefore my attitude hasn’t changed toward Iran. If somebody had a weapons program, what’s to say they couldn’t start it up tomorrow? Since they tried to hide their program before, how would we know?”

Members of the United Nations Security Council are now considering a third resolution that could impose additional sanctions on Iran. President Bush has said that the decisions of the Iranian government are making it harder for the Iranian people “to realize their dreams.” “There’s a way forward that is different,” said Mr. Bush. “And we will continue to work with friends and allies to convince [the Iranian government] that it is in their interest to suspend their [uranium] enrichment programs.”