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  Wednesday, June 26, 2019
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Russia and Iran will continue talks Thursday on financial problems surrounding the Islamic Republic's first nuclear power plant being built by a Russian contractor
Russia and Iran will continue talks Thursday on financial problems surrounding the Islamic Republic's first nuclear power plant being built by a Russian contractor. Russia's Atomstroyexport says Tehran has not financed the project since mid-January and in the fourth quarter of 2006 the project only received 60% funding, warning the launch of the NPP and nuclear fuel supplies could be delayed as a result. Iran has denied the debt, accusing Russia of being pressured by the West that is trying to force Tehran to end its nuclear program. An Atomstroyexport official in Moscow said Thursday the company hoped the talks would bring a result before the end of the week. In a similar reserved comment, Iran's top negotiator, Ali Larijani, said: "So far, talks have not led to any concrete results that we can announce. But they are continuing." An aide to the Atomstroyexport chief, Sergei Novikov, said Wednesday the company was continuing work at the Bushehr plant in southern Iran, although on a limited basis, but complained that Iran's statements "revealing its reluctance to pay" had deterred some subcontractors, deteriorating the situation further. "Atomstroyexport has so far managed to maintain control of construction, but we are witnessing a paradox, when Russian contractors are working in spite of the Iranian customer's wishes," Novikov said. Tehran said Wednesday it had paid Russia over $75 million and another $6 million in national currency between October 10, 2006 and March 14, 2007, including a $12.7 million installment on March 1. But Russia denied the payment, saying Tehran had only paid $5.1 million in January and had not transferred any money in February. Moscow warned the plant could not go into service in September as planned, and nuclear fuel would not be supplied to the NPP in March - six months before the launch - due to the financial problems. The Islamic Republic, already under limited international sanctions, is facing tougher penalties from the UN Security Council over its defiance to halt uranium enrichment some countries fear could be used in nuclear weapons production. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is only for electricity generation. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell said Wednesday Washington approved of Russia's approach to Bushehr, but would support the project only if Russian nuclear fuel shipped to the NPP was used purely for peaceful purposes and spent fuel was returned to Russia.
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