Tehran, IRNA (20 Feb.) In an article critical to the Russian firm in charge of the construction of Iran’s first nuclear-powered electricity plant, the Iranian official news agency IRNA indirectly blames the Russians for “repeated delays” and hints that possibly, the whole of the project could be stopped because of the sanctions decided by the United Nations Security Council against Iran.
Quoting Russian sources, the official agency also says that considering the difficulties Russia faces in putting the plant in service and the UN sanctions, the costs of the project could escalate from the initial 600 millions US Dollars to over 3 billion Euros.
Financial problems and weakness of the Russian contractor, to the point that even Russian banks refused financing it, was one reason for delay in finishing Bushehr plant.
Bellow if a free translation of the article by IPS:
“Authorities at the Russia AtomStroiExport are reporting possible new delay in the completion of the works and the start of Bushehr nuclear plant, repeating old stories of claims about delay, by the Iranian side, of payments of monthly installments for this project.
“However, the deputy at the Iranian Atomic Energy has rejected the claim by the AtomStroiExport, saying there had been no delay from Iranian side to the Russian company in charge of the building of the Bushehr atomic energy plant, adding that Iran had made all the payments and continues the payments as according to previous agreements.
“A source from the Russian Atomic Energy told reporters that in the past three months of the last year of 2006 Iran have fulfilled 60 per cent of its financial engagements and 25 per cent of the January 2007 to the construction company. However, Serguei Novikov has confirmed that Russia is abiding by all its engagements concerning the construction and the delivery of the necessary fuel for the plant.
“Nevertheless, the same official from the construction company, reporting possible delay, has said delay in the payments could lead to possible delay in the finalisation of the project, due to be finished in March this year.
“In addition, the Head of the Bushehr atomic electricity plant Administration has said the delay in the delivery of cooling systems of the plant by a third country, now due at the end of 2007, could lead to new delay in the completion of the project.
“Russian authorities two months ago stated that in order to prevent further delay, Tehran and Moscow have reached agreement for the cash flow of the company in charge of the construction of the plant.
“This agreement had been reached during the visit o Tehran by Serguei Shmatiko, the Director of the AtomStroiExport and his meeting with Mr. Qolamreza Aqazadeh, the Head of Iran Atomic Energy Organisation.
“According to the Russians, the cost of the project was established at 1.1 to 1.3 US Dollars, of which the sum of 200 million would be paid at the completion of the plant.
“During his last visit to Moscow as year, Mr. Aqazadeh had told reporters it remained only 7 to 8 percent of the works, which should be finished within six months.
“Concerning the repeated delays in the completion and start of the plant, Mr. Aqazadeh pointed to the fact that the Russians had to take over of the project that had been started by westerners (actually, the German company Simmens) and that the Russians did not have all the necessary guidelines, transferring western technologies to Russian ones.
“According to the Iranian official, repeated changes at the Russian construction company in charge of the Bushehr plant were another reason creating delays, explaining “financial problems and weakness of the Russian contractor, to the point that even Russian banks refused financing it, were other important factor”.
“He said, pointing to the incompetence of he Russian contractor for carrying out such big projects, “if we were in charge from the start, we would never never advise this contract, for, not only we have already paid for something like a full blast plant, yetl we don’t have any proper results”.
“Construction works by AtomStroiExport started in 1995 and according to the initial agreements, the plant should have been finished in four years, but as the Russian company was not able to stand by its word, an additional agreement was reached, stating the project would be finished by 2001 or 2002.
Rejection by Iran of the UN Security Council to stop its enriching uranium could be another reason for the delay.
“This date was also not withheld and after new talks and more costs, it was decided that this time Iran will have the plant ready to go on steam on 2006, or early 2007, with, each time, the Russia side assuring that there would be no more delays and emphsising that political factors had no place in the completion of the project.
“Nevertheless, it seems that again, the finalization of the project is going to be delayed, due probably to financial problems from the constructor firm, which, in order to escape responsibility, invokes the pretext of payment delays by Iran.
“These claims and statements create confusion. Andrei Charkasenkov, a deputy AtomProm Ressourci (a company independent from the Russian Federation Atomic Energy Agency) confirmed that cooling systems of the plants would not be ready for delivery before the end of 2007, meaning that the experimental works of the plant would not be possible before early 2008. Meanwhile, other Russian sources say that the final costs of the project would probably raise to 2 to 3 billion Euros.
“According to same sources, the rejection by Iran of the United Nations Security Council to stop its activities for enriching uranium could be another reason for the delay in both completing the project and transferring to Iran necessary fuel for the plant, as this shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran could fall under the UN sanctions.
“According to experts, the question of the Bushehr atomic energy plant and its relation to the Iranian nuclear standoff at the UN Security Council would become clearer in the coming days. ENDS BUSHEHR UNFINISHED 21207
Editor’s note: Russian names of persons and companies might not be fully correct as they have been rendered from Farsi transcript.
Highlights are by IPS