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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia denies reports on Bushehr construction payments

RIA Novosti

14/03/2007 16:31 MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's nuclear agency denied Wednesday Tehran's claims that Iran recently paid a $12.7-million installment for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the south of the country.

Russian officials said Monday that the $1 billion Bushehr facility Russia is building in southern Iran would not go into service in September as planned, and that nuclear fuel would not be supplied to the NPP in March because the Iranian side had delayed financing by two months.

"The statement of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran that Tehran transferred $12.7 million March 1as part of its financing of the construction of the Bushehr NPP is pure nonsense," a spokesman for the Russian Nuclear Power Agency said.

"Russia has not received any money," Sergei Novikov said.

The Russian company Atomstroyexport, the project's contractor, earlier pledged to continue the partial construction of the Bushehr NPP despite financing difficulties.

The company said the situation that had developed following the two-month delay in payment was critical for the project.

Atomstroyexport said that under such conditions, the company had authorized the project management to take measures going beyond agreements with the Iranian client to secure the financing of work necessary for the project's sustained implementation.

"The lack of clear measures in the current conditions may lead to project delays. We cannot wait for Iran's decision any longer. The postponement of financing may have irreversible consequences," Vladimir Pavlov, the head of Atomstroyexport's department for the construction of Bushehr NPP, told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani warned Russia that any delays in the construction of the Bushehr facility could harm Russia's trade with other countries.

"Russia's sluggishness in the construction of the Bushehr NPP is a problem that Russia has to resolve on its own," Larijani said Wednesday. "This problem may harm trade and economic relations between the Russian government and other countries in the future."

The Bushehr facility has been a cause for international concern, with the United States and other Western countries suspecting that the Islamic Republic is using the project as part of a covert weapons program. Iran has consistently denied that its nuclear program has military goals.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell said Wednesday that the United States agrees with Russia's approach to the problem of funding the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, but will support the project only if the Russian nuclear fuel shipped to the NPP is used exclusively for peaceful purposes and spent fuel is returned to Russia.

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