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Iran says Russia committed to finishing nuclear plant

AFP | September 7, 2007

Iran said on Thursday that Russia remains committed to completing construction of its first nuclear power plant, despite strings of delays and setbacks, state media reported.

"During our latest discussion, Russian officials assured us that they are committed to completing this power plant," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster's website.

"We will emphasise this in next month's visit by (President Vladimir) Putin to Tehran," he added without elaborating.

Iranian media have reported that Tehran will host a summit meeting of Caspian Sea littoral nations in mid-October. Both Russia and Iran border the Caspian along with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani also spoke of progress in talks with Russia on completing the reactor under construction in the Gulf port of Bushehr.

"With regards to the Bushehr power plant we have reached good understanding with the Russians," he told the same website earlier Thursday.

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

Tehran says the much-delayed power station is the key to its plans for a civilian nuclear programme. Washington accuses the Islamic republic of using its energy programme as cover for nuclear weapons development.

Moscow has repeatedly pushed back the target date for the plant's opening in recent months, saying 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 Iranian officials had planned.

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