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Posted: 10/11/2004 4:49:42 AM EDT
Russia poised to close deal on Iran nuke plant

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Oct. 11, 2004 12:00 AM

TEHRAN, Iran - Russia and Iran are on the verge of closing an $800 million deal to start up Iran's first nuclear power plant, the countries' foreign ministers announced Sunday.

Such a deal would be a major blow to U.S.-led efforts to derail Iran's nuclear program, which many suspect is intended at least in part to make nuclear weapons. Iranian leaders deny any atomic ambitions, although Iranian scientists are developing technology that could be used to make highly enriched uranium for weapons.

At a joint news conference in the Iranian capital, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he and his Iranian counterpart, Kamal Kharrazi, ironed out their differences over providing fuel for Iran's first reactor near the southern port city of Bushehr. The two also discussed international concerns over Iran's nuclear program and ballistic missile technology.

"We talked about some kind of commitment that this (missile technology) will not lead to other things," Lavrov said in Russian. He did not elaborate.

The Bush administration has repeatedly pressured Russia to abandon the deal with Iran, which has ties to Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups and is believed to be harboring some members of al-Qaida.

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