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. Iran losing interest in nuclear power station: Russian official
MOSCOW, May 25 (AFP) May 25, 2007
Tehran seems to have lost interest in construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant which Russia is building in southern Iran, a Russian nuclear energy official complained on Friday.

"There's an unfortunate feeling that they have lost interest," RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unnamed official at federal nuclear agency RosAtom as saying, referring to the Iranian side.

"They are not financing the project properly. We have a definite impression that it's a charade of proper financing. The project has already become unprofitable for us.

"We will work according to the contract. If they pay, work will proceed. If they don't pay, it won't."

The RosAtom official said that for the first five months of the year Iran was supposed to pay 25 million dollars (18.6 million euros) a month, but had only paid 20 million dollars in total.

The Bushehr project has been a symbol of Russian friendship with Iran.

But it has been beset by delays and has been criticised by the United States, which has urged Moscow to suspend work.

Washington believes that Iran's stated aim of developing civilian nuclear energy is a cover for developing nuclear weapons, although it has not voiced suspicions about the Bushehr project itself.

The official added that there were doubts about a planned visit to Iran due at the end of this month by Sergei Shmatko, the head of the Russian company that builds nuclear power stations abroad, Atomstroiexport.

Shmatko might not go to Iran "because I don't see a reason to go there. If they pay, we'll build the whole thing," the official said.

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