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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran resumes financing of Bushehr NPP - Russia

RIA Novosti

26/03/2007 18:28 MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) - Tehran has resumed financing of the Bushehr nuclear power plant Russia is building in southern Iran, a Russian nuclear official said Monday.

Russian contractor Atomstroyexport received the first payment for the construction of Bushehr since financing was suspended in February, Sergei Novikov, an aide to the head of the Russian Nuclear Power Agency, said.

"It is positive that our Iraqi partners have overcome the difficulties, but it is a long way from compensating us for the construction needs that have emerged over the [non-payment] period," Novikov said.

Atomstroyexport said it received 60% of the funding in the fourth quarter of last year, $5.1 million in January and no financing in February. Russian nuclear officials said the plant could not go into service in September as planned over the delays, and that nuclear fuel would not be supplied to the plant in March. Iranian officials said they were funding the project on time.

Novikov said the funds paid to Atomstroyexport would normally have covered half of the monthly expenses at the plant, which is being built under a 1995 contract, but added that Russian experts continued working at the site.

"More than 2,000 Russian experts are working at the site," Novikov said.

Western media cited European diplomatic sources and U.S. officials last week as saying that large numbers of Russian experts were leaving Bushehr in the wake of the financing problems, but Atomstroyexport denied the reports.

The $1-billion Bushehr project implemented under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog, was originally scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2006. But the date has been postponed five times.

The project was originally started by Germany's Siemens in 1975, but work stopped following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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