x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Iran's nuclear plant running in August, Russia says

The plant, which Russia has built near the Gulf city of Bushehr in a $1bn deal dating back to the 1990s, was finished and can begin providing electricity soon, the state-run RIA reported.

MOSCOW // Iran's Russian-built nuclear power plant will probably become fully operational in early August, Russian news agencies quoted a senior diplomat as saying yesterday.

The deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the plant, which Russia has built near the Gulf city of Bushehr in a US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) deal dating back to the 1990s, was finished and can begin providing electricity soon, the state-run RIA reported.

"The project is complete, everything is tuned, and now it is a question for the engineers, when they can realistically turn on the switch," the RIA quoted Mr Ryabkov as saying.

"If this happens in the first days of August it will fully correspond with the prognoses and expectations of the Russian and Iranian sides. If it happens a few days later, there's nothing terrible about that, either," he said.

The Bushehr plant has faced repeated delays, angering Tehran and fuelling speculation that Moscow has used it as a lever in diplomacy over Iran's nuclear programme, which the United States and others say they fear is a front for weapons development.

Iran says it wants nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and has rejected calls by the six major global powers, including Russia, for a halt to uranium enrichment at its Natanz nuclear complex.