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No plans to suspend Bushehr NPP construction - Atomstroyexport

RIA Novosti

20/02/2007 17:38 MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - Suspending or freezing the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran is out of the question, an official with the Russian nuclear equipment export monopoly said Tuesday.

Reports in Russia said earlier Monday that the Islamic Republic had not made payments under the $1 billion project in Bushehr for over a month.

Bushehr NPP "is the most important object of Russian-Iranian cooperation. Therefore, suspending or freezing its construction is out of the question," Vladimir Pavlov, the head of Atomstroyexport's managing body for the construction of the Bushehr NPP, said.

But Pavlov reconfirmed that Iran has not made payments to Russia for about a month under the existing contract, signed in 1995.

"We confirm non-receipt of payments under the Iranian contract since mid-January, 2007, which has considerably compounded the positive dynamics achieved in November-December 2006 in accordance with agreements concluded with the Iranian client," he said.

On Monday Pavlov said the construction of the Bushehr NPP could take more time than expected.

"We are very concerned about this, and are waiting for proposals from the Iranian side," he said.

But Mohammad Saidi, the deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, said Monday there had been no delays in payments to Russia for the construction of a nuclear plant in Iran.

He said payments were being made under the contract and according to schedule.

The Bushehr facility has been a source of international dispute, with the United States and other Western countries, raising concerns that Iran could use the project as part of a covert weapons program. Iran has consistently denied that its nuclear program has military goals.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in December imposing sanctions against Iran.

Russia, a key economic partner of Iran, has consistently supported the Islamic Republic's right to nuclear power under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and has resisted the imposition of harsh sanctions.

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