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Iran Dangles Bushehr Start-Up, But No Date Announced

Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant will be activated “soon” authorities said Wednesday – but after years of delays, no date was given.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 8/17/2011, 2:59 PM

Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant will be activated “soon” authorities said Wednesday – but after years of delays, no date was given.

The country's foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters prior to a meeting with with Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, “The launch of the Bushehr atomic power plant will take place soon.”

Salehi and Lavrov were expected to discuss not only a time line for cranking up the power plant, but also the international concerns over Iran's nuclear development activities – points that may be contributing to the delays.

Iran has blamed the Russians for the most recent delays, however.

“The Russians keep making bad promises,” said lawmaker Asgar Jalalian in an article published in the Aftab Yazd daily. “One of the reasons for continued payment to the Russians is that our contract with them does not have a financial ceiling and lacks clear timing on contract termination.”

The Bushehr plant was originally begun by the German Siemens firm in the 1970s prior to the Islamic Revolution.

“We have the impression that there is an understanding of the need to strengthen trust and seek a way to resolve the questions of Iran's nuclear program,” Lavrov told Salehi, according to the Reuters news agency.

Russia, which has been involved in building the plant for some 20 years, recently called on Iran to take concrete steps to ease those concerns. In return, Russia agreed to work towards winning a gradual easing of the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic by the United Nations Security Council.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomed the proposal Tuesday after a meeting in Tehran with Russia's Security Council secretary. However, he made no commitment to end Iran's uranium enrichment program, the key element fueling the international community's suspicions that Tehran is intent on building nuclear weapons of mass destruction, rather than a simple domestic energy program. 

Ahmadinejad has also repeatedly threatened in his public speeches to annihilate the State of Israel off the face of the map.