Reactor should be model for Iranian energy needs, US says

Mike McCarthy

Washington (dpa) – Iran’s use of a Russian-built nuclear reactor shows that the country does not need its own programme for producing nuclear fuel and enriched uranium, the US State Department said Tuesday.

“Russia’s supply of fuel, we think, is a model that Iran should follow in its ambition for civilian nuclear energy,” spokesman PJ Crowley said, adding that the power reactor at Bushehr will be subject to international monitoring.

“What is interesting about Bushehr is that Iran does not need an indigenous enrichment capability to generate civilian nuclear energy if its intentions are purely peaceful,” Crowley said.

Iranian officials announced Tuesday that they have begun fueling the Bushehr reactor and hope to begin producing electricity next year.

The United States and its European allies suspect Iran’s separate uranium enrichment programme is intended to produce fuel at levels sufficient for building nuclear weapons – accusations Iran rejects. Enriched uranium at low concentrations is suitable for powering a nuclear reactor.

For years, the United States had voiced concerns about the Bushehr nuclear reactor but backed off after Moscow agreed in 2005 to require Iran to return all of Bushehr’s spent fuel to Moscow, alleviating US worries.

“This is precisely the kind of international cooperation that we think is appropriate for Iran and undercuts Iran’s rationale for why it needs to pursue its own enrichment capability,” Crowley said.