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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant progressing well - Russian minister

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - The final stage of construction of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant is moving forward at a good pace, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was told on Saturday.

Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko briefed the prime minister on his recent visit to Iran, where he visited the Bushehr facility and participated in a meeting of the Russian-Iranian intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation.

Shmatko toured the reactor site earlier this week with Ali Akbar Salehi, the new head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization. Following his inspection, the Russian energy minister said he expected the plant to be ready soon.

The launch date has been postponed many times over financial and technical problems, and electricity generation is now expected to begin in the first quarter of 2010. Iranian officials have claimed that Russia has been reluctant to finish the facility due to UN sanctions and suspicions of a covert nuclear weapons program.

During the meeting with Putin, Shmatko discussed the approaches of the Russian delegation at the forthcoming meeting in Qatar of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.

As the world's largest gas producer, Russia is a key player in the 11-nation body, which is expected to choose its first secretary general at Wednesday's gathering.

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