TEHRAN, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Russia says it will start shipping fuel to the nuclear plant it's building in Iran, dismissing U.N. sanctions talk, as long as Tehran keeps paying.
"Fuel deliveries to the Bushehr NPP require preparations three months in advance, and we plan to sstart preparations in January 2007 to be able to deliver the fuel in March," said Sergei Shmatko, president of Atomstroyexport, Russia's state-run nuclear export arm.
Atomstroyexport is building two reactors each in India and China and has signed a dual-reactor contract for Bulgaria.
The Bushehr plant is being built with the approval of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The rest of Iran's nuclear program, however, has drawn the ire of the IAEA and a U.S.-led coalition pushing for U.N. Security Council sanctions.
It is operating and plans to expand its uranium enrichment program, a process to make nuclear plant fuel and weapons material.
Iran says it has the sovereign right to become self-sufficient in nuclear energy and says it is not heading toward nuclear weapons.
Russia agrees and has vowed to veto any sanctions that hinder its work on Bushehr or contract to sell Iran fuel.
RIA Novosti reports Iran has paid $900 million for the construction of the plant and last month paid $22 million on a $140 million loan for the project.
"Most importantly, we have confirmed that everything will proceed according to plan, but only if Iran finances $20-25 million for the construction of Bushehr every month," Shmatko said after meeting in Tehran with Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Iran's top nuclear official.