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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Neither deadline for talks, nor commissioning table for Iran NPP - Russia

RIA Novosti

06/09/2007 15:38

MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian nuclear agency spokesman said Thursday there was no strict deadline for talks on commissioning the Bushehr nuclear power plant Russia is building in Iran, and the contractor denied the project schedule had been finally coordinated.

The date for commissioning the $1 billion project in the south of the country, the Islamic Republic's first NPP, was postponed due to interruptions in financing by the Iranian side.

"The talks will continue until all problems that arose this spring are resolved," said Sergei Novikov, press secretary of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power.

Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said earlier Thursday that the countries had agreed on a final commissioning schedule, a statement that the Russian contractor has denied.

"We do not confirm that a final schedule for putting the Bushehr NPP into operation has been coordinated with the Iranian colleagues," an Atomstroyexport spokesperson said.

Energoprogress, a Russian subcontractor, said in late July that the Bushehr NPP could not be completed by the fall of 2007 as suggested by Iranian authorities, and would only be commissioned a year later. "Today we can say with all certainty that it would be unrealistic to put Bushehr into operation this fall," said Ivan Istomin, the Energoprogress head.

Istomin said his company could not assemble the key operating equipment for the plant due to a failure by third countries to supply the necessary components, and cited the lack of Iranian funding as one of the reasons. "Suppliers no longer have confidence in the Bushehr project," he said.

The official said it would take six months to restore trust and agree on new supplies. "The real deadline for the physical launch of the power unit will therefore be put off until the fall of 2008," he said.

The NPP, being constructed under a 1995 contract, came under threat in February after Russia complained about shortfalls in funding. Moscow said Tehran had only covered 60% of the required funding by the fourth quarter of 2006, and had completely stopped payments in mid-January. Iran denied any funding problems and accused Russia of delays.


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