Republic suffered a humiliating blow at the hand of its chief ally Moscow after officials at Atomstroiexport, the Russian company that builds Iran’s first nuclear powered electricity plant, warned Tehran that further delays in financial installments of the costs of the Boushehr plant might result in further delays in the final touches to the station.



At several occasions, Iran has accused the Russian constructor of not only having not proper technological capabilities of building the plant, but also that it lacks proper financial means to carry it out.
A Russian official at the Atomstroiexport, speaking on condition of anonymity, repeated earlier claims about Iranian payments delay described the three-days talks as fruitless”, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported from Moscow.

“Nothing had been resolved in three days of talks because the Iranian side has not respected its financial engagements undertaken in a September 2006 protocol”, IRNA added, quoting the Russian news service “Ria Novosty”, itself quoting an unidentified Russian official who lashed out at Iranian negotiators for making public statements they said were “detrimental” to the talks.

"The Iranian delegation discussed all the questions but no firm decisions were made to overcome the crisis", said the official, warning that "delay in payment has caused further delay delivery of other components of the plant from other countries due for 2007 and obviously further delays in the completion of the project”.

Moscow and Tehran have been bickering over what Russian officials say are millions of dollars in delayed payments for building the plant, a claim that not only Iran denies, but it also says that it is in advance over payments.

At several occasions, Iran has accused the Russian constructor of not only having not proper technological capabilities of building the plant, but also that it lacks proper financial means to carry it out.

“If we knew from the outset, we would never enter the deal (with the Russian firm), because the (Russian) company has not the potentials of such undertakings and also even Russian banks refuses to grant it finances”, Mr. Qolamreza Aqazadeh, the Head of Iran’s Atomic energy Organisation said last year after signing a new agreement with Atomstroiexport.

According to that agreement, signed in August 2005, the Russian firm pledged to finish the “physical” buildings in August 2006 and six months latter, in March 2007, start the transfer to the site of the necessary fuel.

Started under the former monarchy by the German firm Siemens, the project, finished to more than 70 per cent by 1979, was cancelled by the new Iranian regime of Islamic Republic and was partially destroyed during Iran-Iraq war by Iraqi bombardment.

When the new clerical-led Islamic Republic realized its mistake, only Russia offered help for overtaking the project, at an initial cost of 600 million US Dollars.

However, Russia has repeatedly delayed building work at Iran's first nuclear power station, a sensitive issue as Tehran has come under pressure from the United States for its nuclear ambitions.Top of Form

The United States has been pushing Russia to stop building the Boushehr plant in southwest Iran because it suspects Tehran will use the atomic know-how to make nuclear weapons.

Diplomats say Moscow is deliberately dragging its feet on Boushehr because some Kremlin factions are wary of helping Tehran's nuclear program.
Diplomats say Moscow is deliberately dragging its feet on Boushehr because some Kremlin factions are wary of helping Tehran's nuclear program.

Under US pressure, Russia has agreed not deliver any fuel to the Boushehr power plant until Iran signs the agreement, one of whose provisions requires Iran agree to return all of the reactor's spent fuel back to Russia for disposal.

Iran initially announced that it will receive its first shipment of 90 tons of enriched uranium from Russia in May 2003. However, on 12 June 2003 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov stated that Russia would deliver nuclear fuel for the nuclear power station in Iran only after Tehran signs a memorandum binding it to return spent fuel to Russia. "As for the nuclear plant in Boushehr that is fully controlled by the IAEA, Russian fuel will be delivered there only in case Iran signs a memorandum obliging it to export the spent nuclear fuel back to Russia...

On 13 October 2003 a Russian official said there would be a delay of one year in the completion of the Bushehr nuclear power reactor

On February 27, 2005, and after a one-day delay, Iran and Russia finally signed an agreement regarding providing the needed nuclear fuel for the Bushehr facility. Under the terms of the agreement, Russia would provide nuclear fuel to Iran, who would in turn return the spent fuel back to Russia.

However, Mr. Mohammad Sa’idi, Deputy Head of Iranian Atomic energy Organisation for International Affairs repeated charges that the Russian firm has “enormous financial difficulties and therefore has not the capabilities of finishing the project as agreed”, IRNA said in a dispatch from the Russian Capital.

“Iran is ready to pay in advance installments that must be paid after the completion of the plant and even to contribute to overcome the firm’s financial difficulties, provided that it keeps its engagements and put the plant in service as agreed in the latest protocol”, a visibly angry Sa’idi told journalists after the inconclusive talks, adding that a Russian delegation would travel to Tehran next week to discuss the timetable for starting up the plant.

“We are determined to help the Russian in all their financial and technical difficulties in order to remove all their pretexts for further delays in the process of finishing the plant physically and to transfer the fuel the earliest possible. If they were not able to respect their engagements, it means that the problem has left the domain of techniques”, Mr. Sa’idi said, an indirect reference to possible bowing of Moscow to United Nations sanctions against the Islamic Republic, sanctions the Moscow also signed last December

The 1,000-megawatt, $800 million Boushehr plant was due to be launched in 2006 and reach full capacity by September, but so far, the costs have escalated to over 1.3 billions US Dollars and some Russian experts have indicated that it might overshoot to over 2 billions.

“The problem is that Iran the Iranian mullahs are prisoners of the Russian bear and there is no way to escape that political, financial, national and psychological prison”, one Iranian scholar who had warned Iranian officials against the deal told Iran Press Service. ENDS BOUSHER DELAYED 9307

0 Comments:

Post a Comment