Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran's Bushehr NPP to go online before Mar. 2008 - official

RIA Novosti

10/04/2007 16:15 TEHRAN, April 10 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant will be commissioned before March 2008, an Iranian official said Tuesday.

The $1 billion project being built under a 1995 contract was in jeopardy after Russia's Atomstroyexport, the general contractor, said that Tehran had not made any payments for the NPP's construction since mid-January, and that by the fourth quarter of 2006 the project had only received 60% of the required funding.

The company warned that the launch of the NPP and nuclear fuel deliveries could be delayed as a result.

On March 26, Atomstroyexport announced that Tehran had resumed financing of the Bushehr nuclear power plant and that it had received the first payment from Iran, but reiterated that Russia expected future payments on time to avoid further construction delays.

"Even if we take into account the delays in plant construction, Iran will this year [the Iranian year ends March 20, 2008] undoubtedly become one of the states that have nuclear power plants," said Mohammad Saidi, a deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

According to the Iranian official, only 8% of the work remains to be carried out on building the Bushehr NPP and "this year its construction will be completed."

Saidi said the construction of nuclear power plants by Iran is a priority in its nuclear program.

"In the not so distant future, Iran will be able to build small capacity NPPs with the help of national specialists," Saidi said.

The 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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