Russian plans to complete Bushehr on time

Publish date: December 13, 2007

Disputes holding up the completion by Russia of Iran's first nuclear power station at Bushehr have been resolved, the head of Russian state contractor Atomstroiexport said Thursday.

"The difficulties with the Iranian client are resolved and we have an agreement on the timetable for construction. I will give more details at the end of December," said Atomstroiexport head Sergei Shmatko, according to Agency France Presse.

"We absolutely plan to build Bushehr."

Bushehr is at the heart of Iran’s controversial nuclear plans, which Teheran says only involve power generation, but which Israel, the United States and some European countries believe includes a military component. This is unconfirmed, however, following the recent release of US intelligence reports that conclude Iran stopped its nuclear weapons me in 2003.

Iran has never acknowledged the existence of such a military weapons programme, and Russia has on numerous occasions rushed to Tehran’s side to say the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of nuclear technology is peaceful.

Atomstroiexport’s Shmatko would not give details on plans to send nuclear fuel needed for Bushehr to start functioning. But in recent weeks, the IAEA has been working with Russian officials to seal the first uranium fuel shipment to the Bushehr plant – a major step in further confirming the plant will indeed go online after several time-table delays by sometime in 2008.

Moscow has blamed payment disputes and poor equipment for delays to the completion of Bushehr, but the hold-ups also came amid intense international pressure on Iran to clear suspicions over its nuclear ambitions.