Vladimir Putin boldly stated at a Kremlin news conference on Feb.. 1 " “We think that the people of Iran should have access to modern technologies, including nuclear ones.” What are Russia's contributions to Iran's nuclear program?


Russia has provided Iran, or is in the process of providing, six nuclear reactors, including a facility at Bushehr that can be used for uranium enrichment, and is leasing Iran the reactor-grade uranium for the Bushehr 1 reactor.   On February 27, 2005, Iran and Russia signed an agreement to supply 70 tons  of the needed nuclear fuel for the Bushehr facility. Under the terms of the aggreement, Russia would provide nuclear fuel to Iran, who would in turn return the spent fuel back to Russia.  While this provision limits Iran's use of the spent fuel, if Iran were to renounce the agreement with Russia, the Bushehr reactor could produce a quarter ton of plutonium per year, which is enough for at least 30 atomic bombs.

Putin has also successfully lobbied for an exemption in  the UN resolution on Iran for materials, equipment, technology used at Bushehr 1 reactor.  This exemption could allow Iran to convert the lightly-enriched fuel in the light-water nuclear reactor into weapon-grade 235.  It need only remove fuel rods from Bushehr, then extracting their pellets, and feed this enriched uranium into its centrifuges.  The centrifuges could then produce weapon-grade U-235 in less than 2 month.  (Iran could keep the operation secret by substituting dummy rods for those it removed from the Bushehr reactor.)

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