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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Nuclear source says Bushehr NPP to be completed in fall 2008

RIA Novosti

07/09/2007 15:18 MOSCOW, September 7 (RIA Novosti) - The Bushehr nuclear power plant that Russia is building in Iran will be commissioned no earlier than the fall of 2008, a source in the Russian nuclear sector said.

The date for commissioning the $1 billion project in the south of the country, the Islamic Republic's first NPP built by Russia, was postponed due to delays in Iranian payments to the contractor.

"Part of the equipment intended for the Bushehr construction has not been delivered, and final assembly of the NPP, according to most optimistic forecasts, will be completed no earlier than the fall of 2008," the source said.

He added that the work would be finished by next fall only if payments are made immediately and regularly, and if Russia's nuclear equipment export monopoly Atomstroyexport manages to order all the required equipment.

Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, said Thursday there was no strict deadlines for talks on commissioning the Bushehr NPP, and the contractor denied the project schedule had finally been coordinated.

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 denied.

"We are not confirming 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 the Bushehr into operation this fall," said Ivan Istomin, the Energoprogress head.

The NPP, being constructed under a 1995 contract, came under threat in February 2007 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 delaying tactics.

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