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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia-Iran talks on Bushehr NPP begin in Tehran

RIA Novosti

12/03/2007 16:31 TEHRAN, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russian and Iranian experts have begun talks on the settlement of financial issues associated with the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, a spokesman for Russian nuclear exporter Atomstroyexport said Monday.

He refused to comment on the agenda of the talks, adding that they could last several days.

But an inside source said that Moscow believes Iran abuses its good relations with Russia and urges Tehran to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog.

"The Iranians are abusing our constructive attitude and have done nothing to help us convince our colleagues of Tehran's consistency," he said.

"This is detrimental to us, especially to our foreign policy and our image," the official said. "We do not want an Iran armed with a nuclear bomb or the ability to acquire one."

The source said Moscow would not become involved in any anti-American games.

"If [the Iranians] refuse to respond to the questions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), we will let them face the music - they cannot continue taking advantage of our good relations forever," he said.

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.

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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