Moscow (AFP) Mar 26, 2007
Iran has resumed paying for construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant but has still to catch up after recent shortfalls, Russia's atomic energy agency said on Monday. In a statement, the Rosatom agency said the plant's contractor, Atomstroiexport, had "received the first payment for building of the Bushehr nuclear power station since the cut in financing."
"Our Iranian partners have overcome the difficulties they had. This is positive but still far from compensates for the period of non-payment for the needs of the site," the statement said.
Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov told AFP that construction of the plant had been thrown off course by the non-payments and it would not be possible to launch the power station in September as planned.
"Construction of the power station can't be completed by the date initially planned," Novikov said.
Russia earlier said it had not received payment for work at the power station in southern Iran since January.
The Bushehr plant is a symbol of the long-standing ties between Tehran and Moscow.
The United States has urged Russia to stop construction work at Bushehr due to suspicions about the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.
Iran says it is purely developing civilian nuclear energy but the West suspects it of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Novikov did not say how much had been paid but said it would ensure the normal functioning of the site for half a month.
He added that 2,000 Russian workers were continuing work at the site.
The Bushehr project has been plagued by difficulties and subject to repeated delays.
Despite the two countries' relative closeness, Moscow supported a United Nations Security Council resolution on Saturday that slapped new sanctions on Iran in a bid to pressure it into freezing its uranium enrichment programme.
earlier related report
The latest measure approved Saturday imposes a travel ban and attempts to block arms sales to and from Iran, and is regarded as an attempt to thwart the alleged arming of Hezbollah in Lebanon by Tehran.
It names 13 individuals and 15 entities related to uranium-enrichment and missile-development programs and freezes Iranian assets, including those of state-owned Bank Sepah. The measure is also aimed at the Revolutionary Guards, a military unit separate from conventional armed forces.
In addition, the resolution seeks a diplomatic breakthrough, expressing the council's conviction that if the International Atomic Energy Agency can verify Iran has suspended its uranium enrichment and reprocessing, it would lead to a negotiated solution that guarantees Iran's nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes.
Showing a readiness to work for a diplomatic solution, the council wants Iran "to re-engage with the international community and with the IAEA."
Under other provisions of the resolution, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei is to report back to the council in two months on Iran's nuclear program.
All this approved by the 15-member council for what Tehran maintains is a peaceful purpose: civilian energy, not nuclear energy for military armaments as other nations contend.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "notes with satisfaction the council's unanimity in adopting Resolution 1747," Marie Okabe, a spokeswoman, said Sunday.
"He calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to fully implement the resolution's provisions and to urgently take the necessary steps to restore the international community's trust that its nuclear program is peaceful in nature.
"The secretary-general believes that a negotiated solution would strengthen the international non-proliferation regime and hopes that dialogue will resume on this issue of paramount importance," said Okabe.
The resolution reaffirms Iran must take the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors, which has called for a full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities; and ratification and implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's Additional Protocol.
The protocol grants the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency expanded rights of access to information and sites, as well as additional authority to use the most advanced technologies during the verification process.
Shortly after Resolution 1747 was passed Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the council the sanctions were "illegal." Later, Tehran said it was putting additional limits on IAEA inspectors. Sunday, Mottaki told reporters in New York Iran's formal answer would come this week.
U.N. member states are called on by the resolution "to exercise vigilance and restraint regarding the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals who are engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems."
The resolution imposes a strict import/export ban and transport ban on Iranian weapons and delivery systems, whether or not originating in the territory of Iran.
Except for humanitarian or development aid, states and international financial institutions should not provide funds to Iran, the resolution said. All countries have 60 days to report to the Iran sanctions committee on steps they have taken to give effect to the resolution.
The council said it will review Iran's actions in light of that report and will suspend the sanctions "if and for so long as Iran suspends all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, as verified by the IAEA, to allow for negotiations in good faith in order to reach an early and mutually acceptable outcome."
The measures will be terminated once Iran has complied with all council demands.
However, if Iran does not comply, the council will "adopt further appropriate measures" aimed at persuading Teheran to comply with its resolutions and the requirements of the IAEA, the resolution warns.
The text also recalled an IAEA Board of Governors resolution adopted last year that says "a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue would contribute to global non-proliferation efforts and to realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery."
This was inserted at the urging of council members who wanted such language in light of the widely held belief Israel, although never admitting it, has a nuclear capability.
Annexed to the resolution is a proposal put forward in June by six countries -- China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States -- aimed at achieving an end to the standoff by providing elements of a long-term agreement, including a suspension of sanctions for a suspension of enrichment-reprocessing operations.
In December the council imposed a more limited set of sanctions on Iran over the nuclear issue. That resolution, also adopted unanimously, contained a list of persons and entities involved with Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs subject to a freeze on their financial assets.
Iran's nuclear program has been a matter of international concern ever since the discovery in 2003 that it had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the NPT.
Source: Agence France-Presse
Source: United Press International
Email This ArticleNorth Korea Banking Row To End In Days US Nuclear Envoy
Washington (AFP) March 26, 2007
A banking dispute that stalled North Korean nuclear disarmament talks could be resolved in a couple of days despite complex technical problems, the chief US envoy to the negotiations said Monday. The US Treasury is working with Beijing to transfer 25 million dollars frozen in 2005 in Macau's Banco Delta Asia, which the United States suspects are North Korea's proceeds from counterfeiting and money laundering.
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