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Monday, August 25, 2008

Moscow: Iran's Bushehr reactor seen operating by early 2009

NICOSIA — Iran and Russia have again delayed the launch of the Bushehr nuclear reactor.

Officials said a Russian nuclear delegation was scheduled to arrive in Iran in September 2008 to discuss a final timetable for the 1,000 megawatt Bushehr. They said Russia, prime contractor of Bushehr, does not envision full operations of Bushehr before 2009.

"The Iranian nation will witness electricity generation by the Bushehr power plant early next year," Russian ambassador to Iran Alexander Sadovnikov said.

Bushehr has been more than five years behind schedule amid technical and financial mishaps. Iran said it has paid nearly all of the $1 billion charged by Moscow for the nuclear power reactor.

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The Russian delegation was expected to be headed by Federal Atomic Energy Agency director Sergei Kireinko. In June 2008, Kirienko said Bushehr would begin operations in the fall of 2008, a prediction endorsed by Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

"During the visit in September, Iranian and Russian officials will negotiate the final date for commissioning Bushehr power plant," the official Iranian news agency, Irna, said.

For his part, Sadovnikov said all elements of Bushehr would be tested by the end of 2008. In an Aug. 23 interview with Irna, the ambassador said the nuclear power plant would become operational in early 2009.

"Moscow is seriously determined to complete and put into operation the Bushehr nuclear power plant," Sadovnikov said.

Sadovnikov acknowledged delays of Bushehr. The Russian attributed this to the refusal of unidentified countries to provide Iran with nuclear components and machinery for Bushehr.

Under the contract, Sadovnikov said, Russia would bear the expense of additional delays to Bushehr. He did not elaborate.

"Russia has always had a schedule to complete the power plant, but the work schedule has sometimes been out of its control," Sadovnikov said.

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