Russian nuclear chief to visit Tehran

Date: 11-24-06

MOSCOW (AFP) - The head of Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom will visit Iran on December 11 to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries.

A Rosatom spokesman said Sergei Kiriyenko would attend a meeting of the inter-governmental commission on economic relations in Tehran.

Iran's representative on the commission is Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Rosatom said in a statement Friday.

Interfax said Kiriyenko would not be visiting the Bushehr nuclear power station, which Russia has been building in the south of the country -- a project criticised by the United States.

The visit comes as Russia has grown more critical of Iran's nuclear programme, despite long-standing economic and political ties between the two countries.

The United States has tried to persuade Russia to take a firmer line on Iran's nuclear ambitions as part of a wider diplomatic drive to bring pressure to bear on the Islamic republic in the United Nations.

Washington suspects that Iran's stated aim of developing peaceful nuclear energy is a cover for a nuclear weapons programme. Iran denies this.

Completion of the Bushehr nuclear plant by Russia has been subject to repeated delays, blamed by Moscow on technical difficulties.

Earlier Friday Russian news agencies quoted military industry sources as saying that Russia had begun deliveries to Tehran of the Tor-M1 air defence rocket system, which is reportedly to be deployed around nuclear sites, including Bushehr.


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