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Iran complies with Bushehr NPP construction terms - official

RIA Novosti

27/05/2007 14:27 TEHRAN, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - Iran complies with its obligations under the Bushehr nuclear power project and is prepared to assist Russia in completing the NPP construction, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Sunday.

The $1-billion project, implemented under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog, was threatened with suspension after the Russian contractor, Atomstroyexport, said in February that Tehran had only covered 60% of the required funding by the fourth quarter of 2006, and had completely stopped payment in mid-January.

"We repeatedly told the Russian side that Iran is committed to its obligations under the Bushehr NPP project and is ready to provide Russia assistance in solving possible problems [related to the plant construction]," Hosseini said.

Hosseini also said there were possibly technical problems in the construction of the Bushehr NPP, which would be discussed at meetings between Russian and Iranian experts.

A source in the Russian Nuclear Power Agency said May 25 the construction of the Bushehr NPP had become unprofitable for Russia and the planned talks on the project financing could be cancelled.

The source said Tehran had paid only $20 million since the beginning of the year, although the contract stipulates $25 million monthly payments to complete the project on schedule.

"The project has become unprofitable for us," the source said, adding that the completion of the plant now depends entirely on the Iranian side, and that the key remaining issue is the guaranteed financing for its construction.

Russia's Atomstroyexport is building Bushehr, Iran's first nuclear power plant, under a 1995 agreement in the south of the Islamic Republic, which has been in the focus of international attention over its controversial nuclear research program. Western nations and Israel suspect Tehran of concealing a weapons program, but Iran says it needs to enrich uranium for energy.

The construction of the Bushehr NPP was expected to be completed on July 8, 1999 but the deadline has been revised five times since then.

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