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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia, Iran agree schedule for completing Bushehr nuclear plant

RIA Novosti

13/12/2007 15:05 MOSCOW, December 13 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow and Tehran have agreed a timeframe to complete the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, the Russian contractor building the plant said on Thursday.

"We have agreed a timeframe with the Iranian customer for completing the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Difficulties with the Iranian customer have been settled. We'll be able to give an exact timeframe for completing the plant's construction and its commissioning in late December," Atomstroyexport President Sergei Shmatko said.

The completion of the plant, being built under a 1995 contract, came under threat in February 2007 when Russia complained of payment delays. Iran denied any funding problems and accused Russia of deliberately stalling the project in response to pressure from Western powers.

Russia and Iran subsequently held several rounds of negotiations to settle disagreements relating to the plant.

The $1 billion project has been at the center of an international dispute, with Western countries who suspect Iran of developing nuclear weapons protesting against Russia's nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic. The project has been implemented under the supervision of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Shmatko said Russia and Iran could set up a joint venture to run the Bushehr station.

"I do not rule out that we could establish a joint venture with the Iranians to ensure security at the Bushehr nuclear power plant," he said.

Shmatko also said Atomstroyexport was holding negotiations with some Arab nations on the construction of nuclear power plants.

"Today we are holding negotiations with Egypt on our participation, and also talks with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates," he said.

The Atomstroyexport chief said many Arab countries lack the necessary infrastructure for the construction of nuclear power plants, and that Atomstroyexport will not receive any specific orders from them in the next two to three years.

"However we have made a decision to work extensively in this direction, and we can achieve good results on this market," Shmatko said.

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