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Fate of Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Still Unclear

TEHRAN, Sep. 07 (ISNA)-Iran's supreme national security council secretary, said on Thursday that the Islamic Republic of Iran had agreed on a final commissioning schedule with Russia, a statement which was backed up with the foreign minister and denied by the Russian contractor.

"With regards to the Bushehr power plant we have reached good understanding with the Russians," Ali Larjani said.

"In this understanding a timetable for providing nuclear fuel on time and inaugurating this power plant has been fixed," he added.

Manouchehr Mottaki had backed up this statement by commenting "during our latest discussion, Russian officials assured us that they are committed to completing this power plant."

"We will emphasize this in next month's visit by President Vladimir Putin to Tehran," he had added.

This is all while a Russian nuclear agency spokesman said Thursday there was no strict deadline for talks on commissioning the Bushehr nuclear power plant Russia was building in Iran, and therefore the contractor denied the project schedule had been finally coordinated.

"At this point it is too early to say anything definite about the results of the talks with the Iranian side on a new date of launching Bushehr's first reactor," the chief of Atomstroiexport press-service, Irina Yesipova said.

"Negotiations at the level of experts are permanent, and they are underway both in Bushehr and over the telephone from Moscow."

Also Sergei Novikov, press secretary of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power regarding this issue stated that the talks would continue until all problems that arose in spring were resolved.

Atomstroyexport spokesperson said "we do not confirm that a final schedule for putting the Bushehr NPP into operation has been coordinated with the Iranian colleagues."

Energoprogress, a Russian subcontractor, said in late July that the Bushehr NPP could not be completed by the fall of 2007 as suggested by Iranian authorities, and would only be commissioned a year later.

"Today we can say with all certainty that it would be unrealistic to put Bushehr into operation this fall," said Ivan Istomin, the Energoprogress head.

Istomin added that his company could not assemble the key operating equipment for the plant due to a failure by third countries to supply the necessary components, and cited the lack of Iranian funding as one of the reasons, a claim which has been numerously rejected by Iran.

Moscow has repeatedly pushed back the target date for the plant's opening in recent months, claiming in July that the project was in "crisis" because Iran was falling behind on payments for the 1.2-billion-dollar (870-million-euro) plant.

Russian officials have said Bushehr may not be completed until late 2008; a year later than what Iranian officials had planned.

... Payvand News - 9/7/07 ... --

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