Russian company building Iranian nuclear plant says launch will be delayed

The state-run Russian company building Iran's first nuclear power plant said Monday that the reactor's launch will be postponed because of Iranian payment delays.

"It will be impossible to launch the reactor in September, and there can be no talk about supplying fuel this month," Atomstroiexport said in a statement that followed the collapse of bilateral talks last week on the funding dispute. It accused the Iranians of failing to give a written obligation to resume funding for the project.

Russia has accused Iran of paying only a fraction of the required monthly payments of US$25 million (ERU19 million) for construction work at Bushehr in recent months, and warned that the funding delays would push back both the reactor's launch and the delivery of the uranium fuel needed to power the reactor.

Iran has urged Russia to speed up the fuel delivery, but Russian officials said it would only be delivered six months before the plant's launch.

Three-day talks last week between Atomstroiexport officials and an Iranian delegation led by Mohammed Saeedi, the vice president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, ended in failure, reports AP.

Saeedi strongly denied any payment delays, but said that Tehran was ready to provide more funds to enable the plant in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr to be launched in September as planned. He also strongly urged Russia to deliver uranium fuel for the plant this month, as earlier agreed.

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