BUSHEHR, Iran (AP) – Iran and Russia ignored U.S. objections and signed a nuclear fuel agreement Sunday that is key to bringing Tehran’s first reactor online by mid-2006.
The long-delayed deal, signed at the heavily guarded Bushehr nuclear facility in southern Iran, dramatized President Bush’s failure to persuade the Russians to curtail support for the Iranian nuclear program during his summit with Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Slovakia.
Under the deal, Russia will provide nuclear fuel to Iran, then take back the spent fuel, a step meant as a safeguard to ensure it cannot be diverted into a weapons program. Iran has also agreed to allow the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to monitor Bushehr and the fuel deliveries.
Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh and Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency chief Alexander Rumyantsev signed the agreement. The signing, which was delayed by a day, came after the two senior officials toured the $800 million complex.