Iran's first nuclear power plant, which is being built by Russia, will not come online before late 2008, Russian news reports said Thursday.
"I can say with certainty that the plant won't be launched before late 2008," Sergei Shmatko, the head of the Atomstroiexport company building the nuclear plant in the southern port of Bushehr, said on a trip to China, according to the ITAR-Tass, RIA Novosti and Interfax news agencies.
Russia on Monday made its first shipment of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr plant, paving the way for the long-delayed startup of the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor. Russian officials have said that fuel deliveries would begin about half a year before Bushehr was expected to go into service, but they remained coy about the precise launch date.
The US on Monday said it supports Russia providing enriched uranium to Iran so long as Moscow retrieves the used reactor fuel for reprocessing, as stipulated in an agreement between Russia and Iran. But in the past, Washington has tried to dissuade Russia from delivering the fuel, relenting in its campaign earlier this year in order to win Moscow's support for UN sanctions against Teheran.
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