Iran says no date fixed for atom plant completion
(Reuters) - No date has been fixed for completing Iran's first nuclear power plant but Russia is serious about finishing the long-delayed project, Iran's Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
The United States has urged Russia to stop building the Bushehr power plant in southwest Iran because it believes the $1 billion project is part of Iran's bid to master technology that can be used to make nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge and says its nuclear program has only peaceful goals.
Moscow has used the project as a lever in its ties with Tehran, repeatedly putting back the completion date and citing payment delays. Russia says it sees no evidence Iran is seeking to build atomic bombs.
Speaking after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov met in Moscow, the Russian contractor said on Thursday differences were resolved and a timetable agreed but he did not give a date for completion.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a weekly news conference: "Talks between Mr Mottaki and his Russian counterpart were comprehensive ... We believe the Russians are serious about completing Bushehr power plant but no date has been fixed for the completion."
Iran always said it was up to date with payments for the Bushehr plant. Tehran says it needs nuclear power plants so that it can preserve more of its oil and gas for export.
According to Russian forecasts, the first reactor at the Bushehr plant could be started up in 2008 and nuclear fuel would have to be shipped to Bushehr six months ahead of time.
Moscow says the enriched uranium it intends to ship to Bushehr is too weak to develop a nuclear bomb.