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Iran Sanctions Face Challenge From Possible Russia Bargain

Personnel stand in 2010 outside the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran. Iran and Russia are reportedly in talks on a possible multibillion-dollar energy deal that could undermine sanctions targeting Tehran's nuclear activities. Personnel stand in 2010 outside the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran. Iran and Russia are reportedly in talks on a possible multibillion-dollar energy deal that could undermine sanctions targeting Tehran's nuclear activities. (Majid Asgaripour/AFP/Getty Images)

A proposal for Russia to supply Iran with electricity and new power facilities may undermine nuclear penalties targeting Tehran, the New York Times reports.

U.S. Treasury Department personnel did not indicate by press time whether the initiative would breach sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran to address fears about its nuclear work, the newspaper reported on Monday. The possible plan -- valued at between $8 billion and $10 billion -- would call for Russia to construct a number of non-nuclear power systems in the Middle Eastern nation.

Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian and his Russian equivalent Alexander Novak conferred on Sunday about the arrangement, amid talks on a separate potential plan for Russia to swap billions of dollars in nonmonetary goods for oil from the Persian Gulf country.

Moscow is one of six governments in talks with Iran on potential limits to the country's activities capable of supporting nuclear-arms production. Tehran maintains its atomic intentions have no military element, but is pursuing the discussions in a bid to win the elimination of international economic penalties.

Meanwhile, Turkish law enforcement authorities linked officials in their country to a possible scheme to evade the sanctions through the exchange of gold, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

In related news, the International Atomic Energy Agency's top inspections official traveled to Iran late last week for an "informal" discussion, the U.N. watchdog agency said in a Monday report by the wire service. The development came ahead of a May 15 due date for Tehran to supply details on its development of "exploding bridgewire detonators," which have applications in civilian activities as well as nuclear-arms development.

Iranian state media said IAEA personnel would travel in the next week to the country's Ardakan yellowcake plant and its Saghand uranium ore extraction site, Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday. Tehran agreed in February to allow the visits.

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