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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia pledges to supply fuel 6 months before Bushehr NPP launch

RIA Novosti

14/03/2007 14:34 BARI (Italy), March 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has pledged to supply fuel to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran six months before its launch, the country's nuclear chief said Wednesday.

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

Sergei Kiriyenko said commissioning of the NPP will be put off for a period equal to the delay in Iran's payment for the construction.

He said the postponement is "not a political act, but a technical demand."

Kiriyenko said he is really surprised.

"The Iranian side must have lost interest in the construction, because not a single kopek has been paid since January," he said.

The Russian nuclear agency said Tuesday that some Russian specialists who came to Iran to build the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the country's south were starting to leave the Islamic Republic.

"We have registered an outflow of specialists from Iran, and some subcontractors are refusing to supply equipment for the NPP," press secretary Sergei Novikov said.

Russian company Atomstroyexport, the project's contractor, said earlier it will continue the partial construction of the Bushehr NPP despite financing difficulties.

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

Atomstroyexport said that under these 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.

Vladimir Pavlov, the head of Atomstroyexport's department for the construction of Bushehr NPP, told RIA Novosti, "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 will have irreversible consequences."

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.

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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