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Iran nuclear program faces setback from Russian reactor delay

A portion of Iran's nuclear program – a $1 billion reactor being built by Russia at Bushehr – hit a snag on Monday with Moscow announcing that construction will be delayed beyond the end of this year.

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As a new report from the UN nuclear watchdog calls on Iran to guarantee no more hidden nuclear sites, Russia announced that the oft-delayed $1 billion reactor Moscow is building at Bushehr will not begin operations this year, as earlier promised.

Russia insisted the delay is technical and not motivated by political concerns.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev met his American counterpart Barack Obama on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore on Sunday, expressing mutual frustration at Iran's apparent pullback from a nuclear deal that Iran agreed to in principle last month.

Under the deal, Iran would export 70 percent of its current stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) – enough to make at least one bomb, if enriched to a much higher level – in exchange for nuclear fuel for a small reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes.

"Unfortunately, so far at least, Iran has been unable to say yes to what everyone acknowledges is a creative and constructive approach," President Barack Obama said after speaking with Mr. Medvedev. "We are now running out of time with respect to that approach."

(Read more about the IAEA report here, including what IAEA inspectors found at a second enrichment site recently declared by Iran.)

Strains in Russia-Iran ties

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