Jane VaynmanRussia-Iran meetings on Bushehr

High level Russian and Iranian officials met earlier this week to discuss progress on the Bushehr reactor. They agreed, again, on the following dates, although these have changed often, and one Russian article notes (in Russian) that it is likely there will be further delays. Preparations for fuel delivery to Bushehr will begin in Russian in January 2007. The fuel will be delivered to Iran starting March 2007. The reactor construction will be finished in September 2007 and it should begin operation that November.

The fuel which Russia is to supply to Iran has reportedly already been prepared, and is being stored at a facility near Novosibirsk.

It looks like there have been financial issues slowing the Bushehr project. Iran is supposed to pay Russia monthly for the construction of the reactor, but in his statements, head of Russia’s Atomstroiexport, Sergei Shmatko, spoke about how it was important for Iran to keep up the payments in order to meet the schedule. From the Washington Post:

Shmatko said that Iran already had paid Russia $900 million to build the plant, but he added that his company had been forced to provide a $140 million loan to Tehran because the Iranians had dragged their feet on payment.

“We have confirmed that everything will proceed according to plan, but only if Iran provides $20-$25 million for the construction of Bushehr every month,” Shmatko said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

Shmatko also said that there is no dispute with Iran, and the discussions were constructive. He said that the Bushehr contract has turned out to be lengthy and difficult, and they likely underestimated the difficulties in integrating former facilities. However, he does not see any technical difficulties in completing the construction, and two sides have come to an agreement on the stability of financing for the project. Iran and Russia have formed a joint finance committee, which over the next few months will work through the financial situation surrounding the construction of the Bushehr reactor. (My rough translations from Russian news.)