TEHRAN — Iran has submitted a proposal to Russia to jointly assemble the nuclear fuel for the country’s new power reactor and any future facilities, state media reported yesterday.
The move appeared to be an attempt by Tehran to gain some control over the nuclear fuel process at its Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant. With Moscow’s help, Iran began loading uranium fuel into the facility on Saturday.
The United States and allies lifted their opposition to the Bushehr plant after Russia pledged to handle all the nuclear fuel to make sure no material is shifted to a possible Iranian weapons program in the future. The latest proposal by Iran to have even a sideline role in the nuclear fuel process could stir backlash in the West.
“We have made a proposal to Russia to create a consortium under Russian license to do part of the work in Russia and part in Iran,’’ the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, was quoted as saying by state-run Press TV. “We should show the world our capability in uranium production and its conversion into nuclear fuel.’’
Salehi, who is also Iran’s vice president, said Moscow is “studying the proposal.’’
An official at the Russian nuclear agency said the two countries have discussed the possibility of creating a facility to assemble the fuel rods for Bushehr. The facility would operate under Russian license on Iranian territory.