Iran says may not give Russia new nuclear deals
TEHRAN, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Tehran has threatened to withhold further
nuclear contracts from Russia, accusing it of failing to fulfil commitments
on building an atomic power plant in Iran, an Iranian newspaper reported
``As long as the Russians do not fulfil their initial commitment to
complete the Bushehr plant, no new contract will be signed with them,''
the English-language Iran Daily quoted Mehdi Safari, Iran's ambassador
to Moscow, as saying.
``Delays have occurred in this project, but we hope that the Russians
will carry out their responsibilities as planned,'' it quoted Safari as
telling a Russian television station last week.
Tehran and Moscow have blamed each other for delays in the $800 million
deal, signed in 1995, to complete the 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor in
the Gulf port of Bushehr. The plant was initially due for completion by
2002, but Russian officials have said the first unit would be finished
by May 2003.
``No significant progress has been made in the nuclear project because
of some differences,'' said Iran Daily, published by the official news
agency IRNA. It did not elaborate.
Israel and the United States have pressured Russia to abandon the project,
saying Iran could use the technology to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran
and Moscow insist their nuclear cooperation is of a strictly civilian nature.
Washington has imposed sanctions on several Russian scientific institutes
and companies which it accused of helping Tehran acquire weapons of mass
Safari said the Russians had asked to be given the contract to complete
the plant's other phases. Iran has reportedly asked Russia to study building
three more nuclear reactors in Bushehr.
``Russia's reasoning is that if they are assigned the next phase in
advance, they can finish the project in time,'' he said, adding that the
issue was to be resolved during a visit to Moscow by the head of Iran's
Atomic Energy Organisation, Gholamreza Aghazadeh.