"I want to stress once again the readiness of the Russian side to complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant within the set timeframe. I believe that after the shipment of nuclear fuel for the electric power plant that took place last year, the Iranian side should have no doubts on this score," said Alexander Maryasov, director of one of the ministry's Asia departments.
The construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was started in 1975 by German companies. However, the German firms stopped work after the imposition of a U.S. embargo on high technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent capture of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
Russia signed a contract with Iran to finish work on the plant in February 1998. Iran's first nuclear power plant was originally scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2006, but the date has been postponed several times. Russia has cited financial problems for the delay, with Iran accusing it of caution amid suspicions by Western powers that Tehran could be seeking nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic insists it needs its nuclear program to provide civilian energy.
Maryasov said specific issues linked with the completion of the plant's construction and its commissioning, as well as other technical, financial and commercial aspects were being discussed by the Russian state-controlled civilian nuclear power corporation Rosatom and Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.
Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko said on Thursday a trial run of the Bushehr plant was scheduled for this year.
"Yes. We are moving according to schedule," he said, answering a question as to whether a trial run was possible before the end of this year.
Iran's Atomic Energy Organization earlier said the Bushehr plant was 94.8% complete. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said it was due to be put into operation in the first half of 2009.
Russia delivered its eighth and final nuclear fuel shipment to Bushehr in January, supplying a total of 82 metric tons of low-enriched uranium for the plant's light-water reactor.
The deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Qannad, has said Iran is planning to build another five nuclear reactors in the next five years.
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Russia is bankrolling a number of nuclear-cleansing projects in post-Soviet republics. Some cases in point are the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan and a number of uranium mines in other Central Asian countries. This change is explained by Russia’s new economic capabilities and its success in dealing with major nuclear challenges at home.