Russia delays Iran reactor yet again, until Bush leaves office
NICOSIA — Russia, ignoring yet another contract deadline, has again
delayed plans to launch operations of Iran's first nuclear reactor.
Iranian and Russian officials said Russia's Atomstroiexport would be
unable to begin operations of Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor before the
second quarter of 2009. They said the Russian project has been hampered by
unidentified technical flaws, Middle East Newsline reported.
"We hope the current technical problems will be removed as soon as
possible," Iranian parliamentary chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Sept.
Western intelligence sources said Russia was expected to delay the
opening of Bushehr until at least the departure of U.S. President George
Bush from office. The sources said Moscow has quietly agreed to postpone
full operations of the nuclear reactor until Iran agrees to a Western
proposal to halt uranium enrichment.
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Boroujerdi, chairman of parliament's National Security and Foreign
Policy Committee, did not elaborate, but said Atomstroiexport pledged to
begin operations at Bushehr in February 2009. He said Russia ended delays in
the supply of nuclear fuel for Bushehr.
Officials said the delays could mark a delay of five to eight months in
the opening of Iran's 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactor. They said Moscow had
pledged to launch full operations of Bushehr in November 2008.
"Between December 2008 and February 2009 various technical measures will
be carried out that will make the physical start-up process of the first
Bushehr reactor irreversible," Atomstroiexport director Sergie Shmatko said.
Officials said Russia has pledged to accelerate efforts to complete
Bushehr, a project that has cost more than $1 billion. Officials said
Atomstroiexport has entered the final stages of preparations of the