''We have almost agreed to establish a joint venture to operate the Bushehr nuclear power plant, both as part of the contract and later, during maintenance,'' Atomstroiexport president Sergei Shmatko was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying. ''I have set myself an optimistic timeframe-- three months,'' Mr Shmatko said. He added that Atomstroiexport, which is building Bushehr plant, plans to almost double the 1,300 Russian personnel employed in the construction of Iranian nuclear power plant.
He, however, pointed out that the legal status of the Russian-Iranian joint venture was still not clear. Mr Shmatko praised a recent conference at the Bushehr attended by Atomstroiexport and subcontractors to discuss the start of the final stage of construction.
Iran hopes the power plant will be commissioned in October. Russia delivered the eighth and final fuel shipment to Bushehr on January 28. It has supplied a total of 82 metric tonnes of low-enriched uranium to the light-water nuclear power plant.