Iran is considering alternative builders to finish its first nuclear power plant amid disputes with Russia, which now heads the project, an Iranian official was quoted as saying Friday. “Iran is interested in the atomic power station at Bushehr being finished on time and specifically by Russia,” Russian daily Gazeta quoted Iranian presidential spokesman Ali Akbar Javanfekr as saying.
“However, we are already considering other candidates to finish construction of the Bushehr plant in the event that problems arise again,” he said, the newspaper reported.
Tehran says the much-delayed power station is the key to its plans for a civilian nuclear program. Washington accuses the Islamic republic of using its energy program to hide nuclear weapons development, but it has never presented corroborative evidence to substantiate its allegations. Tehran denies the charge vehemently.
Moscow has repeatedly pushed back the target date for the plant’s opening in recent months, saying in July that the project was in “crisis” because Iran was falling behind on payments for the 1.2-billion-dollar (870-million-euro) plant. Iran has dismissed Moscow’s claims, saying that it has already paid all dues and even made advanced payments.
Russian officials have said Bushehr may not be completed until late 2008 – a year later than Iranian officials had planned.