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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia, Iran to issue statement on NPP debt

RIA Novosti

09/03/2007 11:34 MOSCOW, March 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russian and Iranian negotiators will make a statement on Tehran's outstanding debt for the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in south Iran, the project's contractor said Friday.

Russian-Iranian negotiations began March 7, when a delegation led by Mohammad Saidi, deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, arrived in Moscow.

"The talks have been intensive, continuing for more than two days, and now they are almost over. The parties are preparing an official statement that will be made public before noon today," an Atomstroyexport spokesman said.

Moscow denied Iran's claim Monday that all outstanding financial issues over the NPP's construction had been resolved.

Russian specialists are completing the construction of Iran's first NPP under a $1 billion contract signed in 1995, but Russia claimed last month that Iran had an unpaid debt for its construction services, and said that as a result construction might take longer than previously expected.

Atomstroyexport said it has continued its work despite the financial shortfall, which is slowing down construction.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday that Iranian payments had been made ahead of schedule. He said construction was almost complete and that suspending or freezing it was out of the question.

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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