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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran's Claim About Fuel Is Denied

A source in Russia's nuclear sector denied on Sunday a statement from the Iranian foreign minister that fuel for Iran's first nuclear power plant was ready for transporting, saying it had not yet been sealed.

"The procedure for sealing the nuclear fuel by international experts, an important step for preparing its transport to the Bushehr plant, has not taken place," the source said.

The source said the fuel for Bushehr was currently being stored at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrate Plant in Siberia.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters in Tehran on Saturday that the fuel for Bushehr was ready and had been inspected and sealed by the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspectors.

Mottaki said Russia was moving ahead to resolve a dispute that has delayed the start-up of the Bushehr plant, which is being built by Russian companies and will be powered with Russian nuclear fuel.

Russia has repeatedly put back the start-up date for the plant, citing delays in payments from Tehran. Iranian officials deny that there are any payment problems.

Many observers say Russia is stalling because it does not fully trust Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and fears an international backlash if it delivers nuclear fuel to Bushehr.

According to current Russian forecasts, the reactor at the plant could be started up in 2008. Nuclear fuel would have to arrive at the plant six months before the reactor could be started up, Russian officials say.

Mottaki said Saturday that Ahmadinejad and President Vladimir Putin had discussed the issue in a recent telephone conversation, although he did not say when.

The United States and some European countries believe Iran is using its atomic energy program as a cover to try to build a nuclear weapon.

Tehran says it only wants nuclear technology for civilian uses. Russia says Bushehr poses no threat of Iran acquiring sensitive technology.