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Iran recruits engineers for nuclear training in Russia

TEHRAN, Jan 29 (AFP) - Iran is recruiting engineers to receive training in Russia for its controversial Bushehr nuclear plant, just weeks after Washington stepped up pressure on Moscow to end its nuclear cooperation with Tehran.

Advertisements published in the Tehran press by the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization said a total of 225 engineers were needed with expertise in the fields of nuclear physics, physics, mechanical engineering and computer science.

The adverts said that the applicants must be Iranian nationals and that the successful candidates will be sent to Russia for training after a short period of preparation in Iran.

Once trained the Iranian technicians will take delivery of a 1,000 megawatt pressurised water reactor Russian engineers are building at Bushehr on Iran's Gulf coast.

Iran and Russia insist that the plant is solely for civil purposes and conforms to all international laws and non-proliferation accords.

But Washington is strongly opposed to Moscow's technologicial collaboration with Tehran, charging that it has resulted in the transfer of nuclear and missile technology.

Earlier this month it slapped sanctions on three Russian research institutes and warned that it would also cut space cooperation if Moscow failed to end technology transfers to the Islamic republic.

"The economics of working with the US ... are better than with Iran," US State Department spokesman James Rubin said in a stark warning that Moscow would have to choose between its lucrative nuclear cooperation with Tehran and its even more lucrative space cooperation with Washington.

Under a cooperation accord it signed with Iran in 1995, Russia agreed to build two pressurised water reactors at Bushehr. Under a new accord signed last November, Moscow agreed to speed up completion of the plants.

The project was originally started in the 1970s by the KWU nuclear subsidiary of giant German combine Siemens but they withdrew under pressure from Bonn following the 1979 Islamic revolution.


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