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    Iran unhappy with slow construction of Bushehr NPP

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    Tehran is dissatisfied with the slow construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, the press service of the head of the Iranian expediency council said Monday.

    TEHRAN, February 19 (RIA Novosti) - Tehran is dissatisfied with the slow construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, the press service of the head of the Iranian expediency council said Monday.

    Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power plant under a contract signed in 1995. The $1 billion project in southern Iran is scheduled to be commissioned in the second half of 2007, after the original date at the end of 2006 was delayed.

    "[Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani criticized Russia's delay in the completion of the Bushehr NPP [during a meeting with head of the Russian Federation Council's international affairs committee Mikhail Margelov in Tehran]," the press service said. Rafsanjani also accused countries "dominating international organizations" of ignoring Iran's right for peaceful nuclear technologies.

    Reports in Russia said earlier Monday that the Islamic Republic had failed to make a monthly payment under the $1 billion project in Bushehr after transferring payments over to euros.

    Vladimir Pavlov, an official from Russia's nuclear power equipment and services monopoly, confirmed this information and said the construction of the Bushehr NPP could take more time than expected.

    "We are very concerned about this, and are waiting for proposals from the Iranian side," he said.

    But Mohammad Saidi, the deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, said there have been no delays in payments to Russia for the construction of a nuclear plant in Iran.

    He said payments are being made under the contract and according to schedule.

    The Bushehr facility has been a source of international dispute, with the United States and other Western countries, raising concerns that Iran could use the project as part of a covert weapons program. Iran has consistently denied that its nuclear program has military goals.

    The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in December imposing sanctions against Iran.

    Russia, a key economic partner of Iran, has consistently supported the Islamic Republic's right to nuclear power under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and has resisted the imposition of harsh sanctions.

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