Topic: Bushehr NPP dispute
The talks that started in Tehran eight days ago were supposed to resolve Iran's outstanding debt to Russia's nuclear power equipment and services monopoly, Atomstroyexport, which said last month that Tehran had delayed payment for two months and warned that the launch of the NPP and nuclear fuel deliveries could be delayed as a result.
"The statements are groundless," an Atomstroyexport representative said, adding that work at the NPP construction site continues.
"In line with working necessity, there is a rotation of experts at the site, and maybe the number of specialists who arrived at the Bushehr NPP site is less than the number of specialists who departed. But that is the ordinary working process," the representative said, specifying that this is due to a lack of financing on Tehran's part.
Iran has denied the non-payment, accusing Russia of being pressured by the West, which is trying to force Tehran to end its nuclear program.
Atomstroyexport said Monday that talks on the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which Russia is building in Iran under a 1995 contract, will continue after the New Year holiday in the Islamic Republic, which begins March 21.
An Atomstroyexport representative said that the Russian delegation had returned to Moscow and that sufficient and sustained funding for the Bushehr NPP for the next six months had been prominent on the agenda of the meetings.
"However, the Iranian client has not transferred the funds up to date," the representative said.
Tehran said last Wednesday it had paid Russia over $75 million and another $6 million in its national currency between October 10, 2006 and March 14, 2007, including a $12.7 million installment March 1.
But Atomstroyexport said it had not received any payments for the NPP construction since mid-January, and that by the fourth quarter of 2006 the project had only received 60% of the required funding.
Moscow warned that the plant could not go into service in September as planned, and that nuclear fuel would not be supplied to the NPP in March - six months before the launch, as stipulated by the construction agreement - due to the financial problems.
The plant is scheduled to be commissioned in the second half of 2007, after the original date at the end of 2006 was put back. To date, the commissioning date has been postponed five times. The project was originally started by Germany's Siemens in 1975, but work stopped with the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
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