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    Putin reaffirms commitment to Bushehr NPP completion -1

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    Russia will complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

    (Recasts para 5, adds quotes, details in paras 6-10)

    TEHRAN, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

    Russian nuclear equipment export monopoly Atomstroyexport has been building Iran's first nuclear power plant despite opposition from Western countries and amid international concerns that the Islamic Republic is pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program.

    "Russia said from the start that it would not only sign a contract but see it though," Putin, who is on a two-day official visit to Iran, told a news conference in the capital, Tehran.

    "We are not going to go back on our commitment," he said.

    The completion of the plant, being constructed under a 1995 contract, came under threat in February 2007 after Russia complained of funding shortfalls. Moscow said Tehran had only covered 60% of the required funds by the fourth quarter of 2006, and completely stopped payments in mid-January. Iran denied any payment problems, and accused Russia of delaying tactics.

    The Russian leader said the delays were mainly caused by certain technical and legal difficulties dating back to the initial 1975 construction contract between Iran and Germany, which has never been implemented.

    "At the start of the construction we received German equipment, which is obviously outdated," Putin said, adding that some other subcontractors, including South Korea, failed to provide equipment under relevant contracts with Iran.

    "In addition, there are certain legal provisions in the [Russian-Iranian] contract that have to be revised and amended," the president said.

    Putin also said Russia would start supplying fuel to Bushehr when a commissioning date is set, and contract obligations are amended.

    "Under International Atomic Energy Agency rules, nuclear fuel will be supplied several months before a nuclear reactor is commissioned," he said.

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