Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran says Russia honors NPP construction contract

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, November 25 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow fulfills its commitments concerning the launch of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant at the moment, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization has been quoted by the ILNA news agency as saying.

"At the moment, the Russian side fulfills the existing agreements on [the launch of] Bushehr NPP, and does even more than it should. That's why we have no problems with Russia," Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said in mid-November that the launch of the Bushehr nuclear plant in southern Iran may not take place before the end of this year, as earlier planned. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said on Tuesday the launch will take place by the end of March 2010.

The construction of the Bushehr plant was started in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. embassy siege in Tehran.

Russia signed a contract with Iran to complete the plant in February 1998, originally due for completion at the end of 2006. The date was postponed several times over financial problems and Iranian claims that Russia was reluctant to finish the facility due to UN sanctions and suspicions of a covert nuclear weapons program.

Iran has been under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, used in both electricity generation and weapons production. Tehran has repeatedly rejected the demand, insisting it is pursuing a purely civilian program.

Salehi said in October the Bushehr plant was 96% complete, and that almost all of the equipment had been installed.

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