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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

No political obstacles for Iranian nuclear plant -Russian diplomat

RIA Novosti

20/10/2008 14:00 TEHRAN, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - There are no political obstacles in the way of the completion of the $1 billion Bushehr nuclear power plant being built by Russia in southern Iran, a Russian deputy foreign minister said on Monday.

"All the major problems linked to it [the Bushehr nuclear power plant] have been resolved," said Sergei Ryabkov, who held talks with Iran's top security and Foreign Ministry officials on Sunday. "The date of the completion of the Bushehr plant is an issue for the experts. In political terms, there are no problems whatsoever."

Iran's first nuclear power plant was originally scheduled to go into operation in late 2006, but the launch date has been postponed several times. Russia has cited financial problems, with Iran accusing it of caution amid suspicions by Western powers that Tehran could be seeking nuclear weapons.

The Islamic Republic has insisted it needs its nuclear program to provide civilian energy.

Ryabkov said the other five nations involved in the nuclear dispute with Iran - the United States, China, France, Britain and Germany - now agree that the Bushehr project poses no proliferation risks.

The UN Security Council failed to toughen sanctions against the Islamic Republic in late September over its defiance to halt uranium enrichment due to opposition from Russia.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said earlier the plant was 94.8% complete. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has also said it will be put into operation in the first half of 2009.

The president of Atomstroyexport, Russia's nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly, said in September that work the company is due to carry out at the plant in December-February would make its launch "irreversible."

Russia delivered its eighth and final nuclear fuel shipment to Bushehr in January, supplying a total of 82 metric tons of low-enriched uranium to the plant's light-water reactor.

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