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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia not to blame for Bushehr NPP construction problems - FM

RIA Novosti

21/03/2007 14:41 (adds paragraphs 3-8)

MOSCOW, March 21 (RIA Novosti) - Problems around the construction of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant arose because Iran violated its obligations to finance the project and are not Russia's fault, the Russian foreign minister said Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, Iranian colleagues are lying, saying the problem is the fault of the Russian side. Financial problems exist. They are connected with the violation of the coordinated payment schedule by the Iranian side," Sergei Lavrov said in the lower house of Russia's parliament.

Russia warned in February that the launch of Iran's first NPP at Bushehr that Russia is building under a 1995 contract and nuclear fuel deliveries could be put off over payment delays. Iran has denied the debt. Talks on the financial dispute were interrupted over New Year celebrations in the Islamic Republic March 21.

Project contractor Atomstroyexport has said it had not received any payments for the NPP since mid-January, and that by the fourth quarter of 2006 the project had only received 60% of the required funding. It said the plant could not go into service in September as planned, and that nuclear fuel would not be supplied to the NPP in March as a result.

Iran has accused Russia of succumbing to pressure from the West, which is trying to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear program.

Tehran is facing fresh UN Security Council sanctions over its defiance to end its uranium enrichment activities, which the world fears could lead to the production of nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied the suspicions, referring to its right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy.

Russia's ambassador at the United Nations said Tuesday a new resolution would not affect the Bushehr NPP.

"We are treating the Bushehr NPP as a separate economic project unrelated to the previous resolution or the resolution being drafted at the moment, or discussions being held by the Iran-6 negotiators," Vitaly Churkin said referring to the five veto-wielding Security Council members and Germany.

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