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Russia, Iran agree to set up enrichment venture - vice president


BUSHEHR, February 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Iran have agreed to set up a joint uranium enrichment venture in Russia, the Iranian vice president said Sunday. "We held talks with the Russian side on Russia's proposal yesterday and today. The talks saw good progress. Both sides are pleased with the talks," Gholamreza Agazadeh said after a meeting with Russia's nuclear chief Sergei Kiriyenko.

"Therefore, we decided to continue the talks in Moscow soon," he added.

Kiriyenko said work to create the joint venture was underway. "I think there remain no organizational, technical or financial problems on the joint venture establishment," he said.

However, Kiriyenko said, Russia's proposal was only part of a complex of security issues' resolution.

He also said any country had the right to use peaceful nuclear energy, but "the international community must have guarantees of security and preservation of the nonproliferation regime."

The mooted deal between Iran and Russia, which is currently building an $800-million plant near the port city of Bushehr in the south of the country, is seen as a potential compromise in the crisis around the nuclear programs of the Islamic Republic, which some countries suspect of pursuing a covert weapons program. Although Tehran has consistently said it only wants nuclear power for peaceful purposes, the United States and other nations have concerns, as enriched uranium is a vital component for an atomic bomb.

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