Iran faces difficulties funding Bushehr plant

Russian nuclear energy officials hosted an Iranian delegation Wednesday for talks on the construction of a Russian-built nuclear plant that has fallen behind schedule because of what Moscow said were delays in Iranian payments. Vladimir Pavlov, a top official at the state-run company that is building the Bushehr nuclear plant in southern Iran, said the talks with the Iranians would focus on the funding shortage. The Iranian delegation was led by Mohammed Saeedi, vice president for planning and international affairs at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. "The main issue on the agenda of today's meeting is to discuss the crisis situation connected to the lack of funding of the project by the Iranian side," Pavlov, who heads the department in charge of the plant's construction at Atomstroiexport, said in a statement. The Iranian delegation's visit follows Moscow's warning last month that Iranian payment delays would push back both Bushehr's planned September launch and the uranium fuel deliveries that had earlier been scheduled to begin this month. Iran has been eager to get the uranium fuel, but Russian officials said it would only be delivered six months before the plant's launch.