This spring, Russia will start supplying nuclear fuel to Iran for the Bushehr nuclear plant through the Caspian sea via the Astrakhan port Olya, port director Alexander Melnikov said on 1 March.

Previously fuel supplies were delivered by air.  "We have received a licence for the transhipment of nuclear materials. This year the first shipments will take place through the Caspian nuclear route to supply of enriched uranium and fresh nuclear fuel to the Bushehr power plant," he explained.

Melnikov added that technological platforms had been installed to handle the supply of fuel in the port of Astrakhan, and Iran had made the necessary preparations to receive it. Fuel will be transported on specialised vessels in lead containers "in several layers, between which there is a coolant”.

The shipments will take place under International Atomic Energy Agency auspices. The international port of Olya is located 100km south of Astrakhan at the 67th kilometre of the new Volga-Caspian canal.