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Russian Reactor Deal May Bolster Iran in Nuclear Talks

Workers load nuclear fuel in the reactor building at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant in 2010. Iran may buy two new power reactors from Russia, possibly helping Tehran to argue that it needs more fuel-production systems. Workers load nuclear fuel in the reactor building at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant in 2010. Iran may buy two new power reactors from Russia, possibly helping Tehran to argue that it needs more fuel-production systems. (Iran International Photo Agency/Getty Images)

Iran plans to purchase two new power reactors, potentially bolstering the country's position in negotiations over its bomb-usable nuclear efforts, Reuters reports.

The Middle Eastern nation indicated on Tuesday that it is roughly two months away from finalizing the acquisition of a second and third Russian reactor for its Bushehr nuclear-power plant. The development may factor into ongoing nuclear talks, where Washington and five other governments are pressing Tehran to dial back reactor-fuel production capabilities that could also generate weapon material.

The Bushehr site runs on Russian uranium and is currently Iran's only atomic-energy facility. Tehran, though, has argued that it needs a significant fuel-production capability to operate a planned series of additional power reactors.

Iran's argument for a large uranium-enrichment program has been received skeptically by the United States and other members of a six-nation negotiating bloc seeking to restrict the country's nuclear efforts. Those governments contend that Tehran must significantly reduce the size of the uranium program under any long-term swap for sanctions relief.

Iranian and Russian atomic-power personnel convened high-level discussions in Tehran this week to discuss Iran's possible acquisition of the additional reactors, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said agency head Ali Akbar Salehi could sign off on the planned purchase during a trip to Moscow planned in late August.

Meanwhile, an insider said Israel is privately warning the United States not to allow Tehran to gain a political edge from recent advances by extremists in Iraq, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. The staffer for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided no elaboration.

On Sunday, Netanyahu aired worries that Washington could adopt a more flexible negotiating stance on Iran's nuclear program in a bid to win Tehran's support in responding to the Iraqi insurgency.

"When your enemies are fighting each other, don’t strengthen either one of them. Weaken both," the leader told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"By far the worst outcome that could come out of this is that one of these factions, Iran, would come out with nuclear weapons capability. That would be a tragic mistake," he said.

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