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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran says Moscow wants NPP funding ahead of time

RIA Novosti

08/03/2007 16:19

TEHRAN, March 8 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's top security official said Thursday Russia demanded payments for the construction of a nuclear power plant in southern Iran ahead of schedule.

Russia said last month that Iran had an unpaid debt for its services to build the Islamic Republic's first NPP in Bushehr and warned the launch of the plant, slated for September, could be delayed.

"There are no financial problems, Russia has suggested that we make payments ahead of the timeframes stipulated in the contract," said Ali Larijani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. "Talks are being held with the Russians on the issue at the moment."

A delegation led by Mohammad Saidi, deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization is in Moscow to resolve the financial dispute which could also delay nuclear fuel supplies that were due to start in March.

Six hours of talks Wednesday ended with no result, an official from Atomstroyexport, Russia's contractor for the project, said yesterday.

The company's chief financial officer said earlier Iran had made its last payment under the project January 17, adding Atomstroyexport had continued work despite the financial shortfall, which had hit its subcontractors and was slowing down construction.

Iran has repeatedly denied the delays in payments and demanded the project be completed according to schedule.

After the talks resumed Thursday, Atomstroyexport said it was studying Tehran's proposals to resolve the dispute.

"Active talks are being held at the moment. The Russian side is studying the Iranian partners' proposals to overcome the crisis in the construction of the Bushehr NPP," the official said without elaborating.

The $1 billion Bushehr facility has been a source of international dispute with the United States and other countries raising concerns that Iran could use the project as part of a covert nuclear weapons program. Iran has consistently denied that its nuclear program has military goals.

The five permanent UN Security Council members are currently discussing additional sanctions against Tehran, which ignored last month the UN deadline to halt uranium enrichment activities which can lead both to power generation and weapons production.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, voted Thursday to shut down or freeze 23 out of 55 projects with the Islamic Republic over its defiance of the nuclear demands.

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