TEHRAN, May 20 (UPI) -- Iran says Russia has assured its Bushehr nuclear power plant, whose completion has been delayed several times in the past, will now be ready on time.
Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia's atomic energy agency RosAtom, said his agency and Russia's Atomstroyexport, construction contractor for Bushehr, do not intend to change the completion time set for this year, Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported, quoting Russian reports.
Under the latest timetable, the plant is to become operational later this year, IRNA said.
The $800 million-plus plant, Iran's first nuclear power plant, was proposed in a 1995 agreement between Iran and Russia, with completion set for 2000 before the project was hit by delays.
The delays were largely blamed on payment disputes between the countries.
Kiriyenko was quoted as saying the recent incident when Azerbaijan halted a shipment of Russian equipment for the plant was the result of a misunderstanding and not a dispute, IRNA said.
The equipment was released early this month after Atomstroyexport provided all necessary documents to the Azeri side, the report said.
Western countries concerned Iran is secretly planning to acquire nuclear weapons have viewed the Bushehr plant with concern. Those concerns have been allayed somewhat with Iran promising to return spent fuel from the plant back to Russia to prevent any attempt to extract bomb-making plutonium from the waste.
The plant is being built in the port city of Bushehr, capital of Iran's southwest Bushehr province near the Persian Gulf.