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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran hopes talks with Russia will resolve Bushehr NPP issue

RIA Novosti

13/03/2007 11:50 TEHRAN, March 13 (RIA Novosti) - An Iranian government spokesman said his country expected the current negotiations with the Russian contractor in the suspended $1-billion Bushehr nuclear power plant project to resolve the issue.

The Russian Nuclear Power Agency said Monday the Bushehr NPP Russia is building in southern Iran would not be put into service in September as planned because the Iranian side had delayed financing by two months.

The Iranian government spokesman, Gholam-Hossein Elham, responded Tuesday by saying, "We are not pessimists, and we think the existing problems will be resolved through negotiations."

He also dismissed media reports that Russia had stopped the Bushehr project to force Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment, which is part of its controversial nuclear program. Russia is one of the six negotiators on Iran's nuclear program, which Western nations suspect of seeking to produce bomb-grade materials.

"The problem of Bushehr and the moratorium on uranium enrichment are two separate issues," Elham said.

Iran insists its nuclear program is exclusively aimed at generating energy, and promises to proceed with uranium enrichment despite the UN Security Council sanctions introduced in December.

"Enrichment is a resolved matter, which is not for discussion," the government spokesman said. "Obtaining peaceful nuclear technologies is a legitimate right of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Russian-Iranian negotiations on the Bushehr project began in Tehran Monday and are expected to take several days, according to Russian sources.

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