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Russia urges Iran adopt intl. banking standards for Bushehr NPP

RIA Novosti

11/04/2007 20:04 MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has asked Iran to switch from national to international banking standards in funding the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the general contractor said Wednesday.

The $1 billion project being built under a 1995 contract was put in jeopardy after Atomstroyexport 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.

"Atomstroyexport has prepared cooperation proposals based on international banking law, especially since our Bushehr NPP project is also based on international law," a company spokesman said.

He said international banking standards are crucial for the successful completion of the Russia-led project in the south of the country.

Talks on completing the project, including funding, are ongoing in Tehran.

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.

Iran said only 8% of the work remains to be done on the Bushehr NPP and "this year its construction will be completed."

The Bushehr project implemented under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog was originally to be commissioned 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.

Iran's nuclear research, namely its enrichment of uranium that can be used in nuclear weapons, has been at the center of international attention since early last year. Iran says it needs nuclear fuel to generate power.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday the Islamic Republic had launched industrial production of nuclear fuel at the Natanz center, about 1,000 miles from the Israeli border. The UN Security Council tightened sanctions against Iran March 24.

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