Russia Reaffirms Nuclear Aid Commitment to Iran
On January 14, Russia reaffirmed its intention to expand nuclear cooperation with Iran. Following a meeting between highlevel Russian and Iranian defense officials, Russian Vice Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov announced that Iran may order an additional three nuclear reactors to supplement the existing light-water reactor project at Bushehr. Russian Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov initially announced plans to conduct a feasibility study on the three additional reactors in November 1998, estimating that the proposed reactors would cost $3-4 billion. Iran is considering the offer, Adamov said January 26.
U.S. officials have expressed concern that civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia could aid Iran's efforts to clandestinely develop a military nuclear capability@ Russia maintains that the projects pose no threat, citing Iran's compliance with IAEA safeguards as a state-party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States secured agreement in 1995 from then-President Boris Yeltsin to abandon any militarily useful nuclear cooperation with Iran, specifically the transfer of a centrifuge enrichment plant originally guaranteed in the 1995 Bushehr protocol with Tehran.
Shortly following the Russian announcement, The New York Times reported that CIA Director George Tenet had briefed administration officials on a change in the agency's assessment of the advancement of Iran's nuclear weapons. …