The Russian and Iranian supreme audit institutions will investigate the considerable delay in the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the head of the Russian Audit Chamber said in an interview on national television, as reported by RIA News.
After his recent trip to Iran, Sergei Stepashin told the Rossiya TV channel, “My Iranian colleague and I have agreed to carry out a parallel investigation into why this project has been delayed.”
“We have reached unpleasant conclusions. A certain organization, Atomstroiexport, was established under the Nuclear Energy Ministry in 1998. This organization acted as an intermediary. Then Kakha Bendukidze (a well-known Russian oligarch of Georgian origin who became the Georgian Economic Minister under President Mikhail Saakashvili) acquired the company. After that, the state lost all its positions in the company.”
“Iran has many questions for that company,” Stepashin said. Fortunately, it has undergone a change in ownership and now belongs to Gazprombank. This means that it is a state-run organization now. Iran also has questions it wants to ask former Russian minister for nuclear energy Adamov (currently under arrest in Switzerland on fraud charges brought by the U.S.). Iran says that several heavily funded programs have never been implemented.”
“We are waiting for our Iranian colleagues (to send us) documents and we will study them very closely with our specialists,” Stepashin said.
“I think the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office should study this case very carefully.”
The head of the Audit Chamber said that he expected the multi-billion Bushehr nuclear power plant to be operational by the end of next year. “This would allow Russia to continue working in Iran, including in its nuclear market. In the next 80 years, Russia could make about $80-100 billion from its projects in Iran,” Stepashin said.
Both the United States and Israel have objected to the building of the Bushehr reactor, which could go online at the end of next year, as they claim Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and that having such a facility will be a proliferation risk. Russia signed a cooperation agreement with Iran in 2002 that opened the way for the construction of up to five reactors, including another one at Bushehr, over the coming decade.