- The Washington Times - Friday, November 18, 2005

PUSAN, South Korea — President Bush told Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday that the United States supports Moscow’s proposal to allow Iran to enrich uranium for a nuclear power plant at a facility to be built in Russia.

The two leaders have been at odds over a plan by Russia to build a nuclear reactor for a power plant in Iran, which both Iran and Mr. Putin say will be used for civilian energy. Mr. Bush questions the oil-rich nation’s need for such a power source that can be used to develop atomic weapons.

“We think it’s a good avenue to explore. … It may provide a way out,” National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley said at the first day of a Pacific Rim economic summit in South Korea’s largest port city.

Meanwhile in Vienna, Austria, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said in a confidential report yesterday that Iran had given it a document that diplomats said included partial instructions for making the core of a nuclear bomb.

The U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the disclosure heightened concerns about weaponization, but other diplomats and a U.S. nuclear specialist said more inquiry was needed.

In Pusan, Mr. Hadley said even though Iran has rejected the Russian proposal, it is still viable because Britain, France and Germany also support the concept. It would limit Iran’s access to enriched uranium that can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The Russian proposal would give Iran “a sense that it would have an assured fuel supply for its civil nuclear power program because it would have management participation, financial participation in the venture,” Mr. Hadley said.

The IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said documents the IAEA was given included one “on the casting and machining of enriched, natural and depleted uranium into hemispherical forms.” One European diplomat described it as a “cookbook” for the enriched uranium core of a nuclear weapon.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said in his report to the agency’s board of governors that Iran’s full transparency is indispensable and overdue. The board is expected to meet Thursday to consider again whether to send Iran’s case to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin met for an hour yesterday in talks that included a variety of difficult topics — Syria, the Middle East, Chechnya, Iraq, bird flu and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Russia — one of five nations that has been in negotiations with dictator Kim Jong-il over his nuclear program — reaffirmed the importance of the United States, China, Japan and South Korea maintaining a unified voice to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

On the multilateral talks with North Korea, the two leaders “talked about … how having all the [five] parties speaking in one voice was important,” a senior administration official told reporters.

As Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin exhibited a united front, South Korea surprised the White House by announcing it will include plans to bring home about a third of its 3,200 troops in Iraq when it seeks parliamentary approval for extending the deployment.

Meanwhile, the first day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit opened with leaders from 21 Pacific Rim nations pledging to push hard for a global trade pact and unite to reduce the risk of a global flu pandemic.

Mr. Bush will attend the final APEC sessions today, meet separately with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and then fly to Osan Air Base south of Seoul to speak to U.S. troops.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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