September 8, 2006, RFE/RL -- The head of Russia's atomic energy agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, says the atomic reactor that Russia is building for Iran is scheduled to become operational in November 2007.
The United States, which accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, has long pushed for Russia to stop building the Bushehr plant.
Kiriyenko says he believes there are "no objective grounds" under which the building of Bushehr would be affected by possible international sanctions against Iran.
Western and Russian media reports earlier in the day quoted an unidentified Russian official as saying Russia would halt the construction of the Bushehr plan if Iran were to expel inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran has threatened to expel the inspectors if the UN Security Council imposes sanctions against Tehran.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov promptly dismissed the reports as "provocation."
(Reuters, Interfax, lenta.ru, newsru.com)
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