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UPDATED: 08:56, March 12, 2007
Iran says ready to help Russia in launching Bushehr power plant
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Iran on Sunday expressed its readiness to help the Russian contractor in launching the Bushehr power plant in southern Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran's vice president and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Gholam Reza Aghazadeh made the remarks in reference to the financial problems of the Russian contractor in building the Bushehr power plant, IRNA said.

"The Russian company needs Iran's help with respect to its liquidity problem to inaugurate Bushehr power plant in due time. We are ready to enhance the Russian side's liquidity, although it is not within Iran's legal commitments," Aghazadeh said.

The Iranian nuclear official also said that back-up sectors of the plant, including industrial water and transfer of sea water to a system of water circulation, were currently ready to be inaugurated.

He stressed that "Tehran has paid its financial dues in time. We have even paid our payments ahead of time."

"The Russian contractor has changed more than eight of its managers so far. It has received payments from Iran which have not been used in due sectors," he added.

A three-day Russian-Iranian talks on the financing disputes of the Bushehr nuclear power plant construction ended fruitlessly on Friday, according to a Russian source close to the negotiations.

The chief Iranian negotiator "grossly violates the negotiating process," the source was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying on Friday, commenting on talks between Atomstroiexport, the Russian nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly, and the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization.

"The Iranian delegation discussed all the issues, but it didn't finalize any specific decision to overcome the crisis because the Iranians proved to be unprepared to sign a protocol that was based on the results of discussion of their own proposals," the source said.

The source accused Iran of failing to fulfill any of the decisions recorded in a Russian-Iranian protocol of September 2006 which stated that the plant is to be launched by September 2007 if Iran pays 25 million U.S. dollars a month for its construction and imported equipment from third countries according to schedule.

Last month, Atomstroiexport warned of delaying the launch of the Bushehr plant, citing late payments and problems with equipment deliveries.

Located in southwestern Iran, Bushehr is the country's first nuclear power station, but work at the plant has been long delayed.

Russia and Iran signed a one-billion-U.S.-dollar contract for the plant in 1995. Under an agreement reached last September, fuel deliveries to Bushehr are scheduled to start in March and the plant is due to come on stream in September this year.

Source: Xinhua

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