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Bahrain, Iran, and Nuclear Energy

The United States and Bahrain have agreed to cooperate on civil nuclear power. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa signed an agreement, called a memorandum of understanding, in which Bahrain pledged to acquire nuclear fuel through existing international markets and to forgo acquisition of sensitive fuel cycle technologies.

The U.S. State Department says the agreement "is a tangible expression of the United States’ desire to cooperate with states in the Middle East, and elsewhere, that want to develop peaceful nuclear power in a manner consistent with the highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation." The State Department said the agreement also "reflects Bahrain’s commitment to serve as a model in the region," and "stands in direct contrast to Iran’s nuclear activities."

Earlier this month, the United Nations Security Council passed a third sanctions resolution against Iran for its refusal to comply with demands that it suspend proliferation sensitive activities, including all uranium enrichment. Enriched uranium can be used to produce nuclear fuel and also the fissile core for nuclear weapons. For decades, Iran refused to admit it was secretly developing uranium enrichment capabilities, and it refuses to stop its uranium enrichment program.

Russia has offered to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for use in Iran’s civilian nuclear facilities. President George W. Bush says the U.S. supports the Russian plan:

"Iran has the right to have civilian nuclear power . . . Iran is a sovereign country and they should have it. The problem is we just don’t trust the government because they haven’t been forthcoming about their enrichment of fuels to go into the reactor, and therefore Russia’s offer to provide fuel on a contractual basis and provide fuel on a consistent basis would help solve the problem."

President Bush says the Iranian people should understand that the United States is going to be firm in its desire to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But, Mr. Bush says, the U.S. does want to see the Iranian people enjoying the benefits of civilian nuclear power. "If the [Iranian] government changes its behavior," said President Bush, "there is a better way forward for the Iranian people."