'Bank problems delaying Bushehr plant'

Russian banks reportedly refusing to work with Iran, which has missed payments for reactor in the past.

bushehr centrifuges new 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
bushehr centrifuges new 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The completion of Iran's first nuclear plant is being delayed by Russian banks refusing to work with Iran, a Russian news agency reported on Wednesday. RIA-Novosti quoted the head of the Russian state-run company building Bushehr as saying that the company was trying to change how the construction was being financed. Atomstroiexport chief Dan Belenky didn't name the banks and wouldn't say when the plant is now scheduled to be completed. Iran is paying Russia more than $1 billion (€630 million) to build the light-water reactor. Engineers have done a test run of the plant - a major step toward starting it up. In February, a top Russian official was quoted as saying that Moscow planned to begin operating the Bushehr reactor before the end of 2009. "If there are no unforeseen events... then the launch will go according to the timetable," Sergei Kiriyenko, chief of Russia's state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, was quoted by Interfax as saying. "The launch is scheduled for this year." This would not the first time that the completion of the plant has been delayed due to funding issues. As far back as June 2007, Russian nuclear energy officials hosted an Iranian delegation for talks regarding delays in Teheran's payments. In September 2006, the chief of Iran's Atomic Organization predicted that the plant would be completed within six months. The United States has long objected to Russia's deal to build Bushehr, saying it could be used by Iran to produce fissionable material for weapons.