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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran confirms trial run of Bushehr NPP to go ahead by yearend

RIA Novosti

17/02/2009 16:35 TEHRAN, February 17 (RIA Novosti) - Tehran hopes a trial run of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran will take place before the end of this year, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

"The work to complete the construction of the nuclear power plant is proceeding as planned," Hasan Qashqavi said, citing Russian officials.

He added that Iran did not anticipate any "emergencies" that could prevent the plant's operation.

"Technical consultations with our Russian partners are ongoing, and we hope that the expectations of the entire Iranian people will not be disappointed - the NPP will be put into operation on time and will work for the benefit of our country," he said.

The head of Russia's state nuclear power corporation Rosatom said earlier this month the work was "moving according to schedule."

Sergei Kiriyenko said, however, that unforeseen obstacles were always possible, particularly, as the corporation was working to integrate "old equipment."

The construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was started in 1975 by German companies. However, the German firms stopped work after the imposition of a U.S. embargo on hi-tech supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent capture of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Russia signed a contract with Iran to finish the work on the plant in February 1998. The Bushehr project was originally scheduled go on line at the end of 2006, but the date has been pushed back several times. Russia has cited financial problems for the delay amid Western suspicions that Tehran could be seeking nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic insists it needs its nuclear program to generate energy for non-military purposes.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said earlier the Bushehr plant was 94.8% complete. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said it was due to go on stream in the first half of 2009.

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