BOOSHEHR, 27 Feb. (IPS) Russia disclosed Sunday that the works at the nuclear reactor it is installing in the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr present "a certain number of troubling problems".
The disclosure was made by Alexander Rumyantsev, the Russian Atomic Energy Agency Chief during a visit of the site, accompanied with Mr. Qolamreza Aqazadeh, the Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation.
Though he refused to be more specific, Mr. Rumyantsev, pressed by journalists, nevertheless said problems concerning the plant’s water supply as well as parts related to the cables and the reactor’s automatic safety devices rises “concerns”.
The Booshehr plant’s water supply as well as parts related to the cables and the reactor’s automatic safety devices rises “concerns”.
However, he added immediately that Russian specialists and experts would be dispatched to the site to look into the problems, which he described as “solvable”.
"We are coming up with arrangements to make up for the delay by sending the reactor’s equipments", he promised, quoted by the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
"Though the dominating condition is favourable, I cannot say that it is ideal, given the progress made in the field of reactors. Therefore, the process should be expedited", Mr. Rumyantsev said, adding, "To be honest, I should say that what I observed at the power plant was much better than our expectation".
Stressing that the relevant contractor has already noticed the sensitivity of the issue, he pointed to the cables and the automatic system of the nuclear power plant’s various processes as other problems and said that these can be settled by our experts, “as they have been the case in other power plants”.
The disclosure raised concern by nuclear experts, pointing out that not only Russian atomic technology used in Booshehr is ageing, but it also presents deficiencies compared to western technology.
We will do our best to implement the Booshehr Power Plant in the best possible way", he added, promising that the 800 millions US Dollars, 1000 Megawatts nuclear power plant would go on stream sometimes at the end of next year.
"We are planning the physical launch at the end of 2006. About half a year before this the first delivery of fuel will take place", the official Russian Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.
But some Iranian officials hoped that the plant, which the United States and Israel, as well as some European nations believe would serve the Iranian ruling ayatollahs to produce nuclear weapons, would start producing electricity by mid 2006.
Rumyantsev and Aqazadeh had arrived in Booshehr early on Sunday morning and signed a landmark agreement on the controversial issue of the return of the spent nuclear fuel to Russia by Iran.
Rumyantsev said the first batch of enriched uranium fuel was in Siberia ready to be shipped.
Russia took over Germany the construction of the Booshehr nuclear electricity power after the Islamic Republic cancelled the initial project in 1979.
The plant, completed up to 70 per cent by the German contractor, was badly damaged during the devastating war with neighbouring Iraq.
However, since no western company would engage in Iranian nuclear projects, due to embargo imposed on the Islamic Republic by Washington, Russia agreed to revive it for a cost of 600 million US Dollars and promised to finish it in six years.
But the works were delayed year after year and the cost soared to more than 800 millions.
We will do our best to implement the Booshehr Power Plant in the best possible way.
In the joint press conference in Booshehr, Mr. Aqazadeh confirmed that Iran plans to build at least six more nuclear power plants, adding that Tehran and Moscow plan to establish a joint technical committee to build a new nuclear power plant in Iran.
“Iran had originally planned to develop nuclear power plants with a capacity to generate 7000 megawatts of electricity but members of parliament now have even greater plans”, Aqazadeh told journalists.
“Nuclear cooperation with Russia is a priority for Iran in view of the development of nuclear technology in the Islamic Republic”, he added.
In response to a reporter who asked about the fact that political issues have become intermingled with technical aspects of construction of the Booshehr plant, Rumyantsev confirmed that both Russia and Iran have been much criticized in this regard and suffered heavy pressures.
“But our cooperation with Iran is completely in accordance with international regulations and we have not violated any law”, he stated, adding that Moscow would continue its nuclear cooperation with Tehran.
This collaboration was discussed between American President George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin when they met in Bratislava last week.
"My understanding is that international developments have had no effect on this contract", Mohammad Sa’idi, Deputy Head of Iran's AEO told state radio, referring to efforts by the European Union and United States to persuade Iran to scrap its uranium enrichment plans entirely, a demand that Tehran is refusing while continuing to suspend enriching uranium while it tries to reach a negotiated settlement with Britain, France and Germany.
However, and though Russian officials say that Washington has no serious objection on this issue, but diplomats and observers told Iran Press Service that the Sunday agreement would “certainly” take Washington-Moscow’s relations into a “new and probably more complicated atmosphere”. ENDS IRAN NUKE RUSSIA 27205