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Iran sees its nuclear power station delayed to 2007

Written by: Staff
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TEHRAN, May 1 (Reuters) Iran today said its Bushehr nuclear power station would probably not go onstream until next year -- another delay to a 30-year project that the West fears has become a front for developing nuclear arms.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation said last year that the 1000-megawatt (MW) Bushehr plant, being built with Russian help on Iran's southern Gulf coast, would be commissioned by the end of 2006.

But chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said the start-date would probably be later.

''I assume this power plant will go onstream in one year's time,'' the official IRNA news agency quoted him as telling students.

Bushehr reactor was started in the mid-1970s with the assistance of Siemens of what was then West Germany. The site was badly damaged by airstrikes during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq.

Iran has been referred to the UN Security Council, where it could face sanctions, after failing to convince the international community that the facilities said to produce fuel for Bushehr are not are smokescreen for building a bomb.

Western diplomats says the technology and facilities Iran has developed for making nuclear fuel are far more advanced than what would be needed just to run old-generation power stations such as Bushehr.

Despite the long struggle to finish Bushehr, Iran insists it has ambitious plans to produce 20,000 MW from nuclear power stations by 2020.

When Iran announced its budget plans for the year to March 2007 it said some 3 million would be channelled into two nuclear power stations. It was not clear whether Bushehr was one of the two.

But Larijani said Bushehr would get at least some of the cash.

''The budget allocation is for speeding up the work,'' he said.

Aliasghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on April 22 it would issue two tenders for nuclear power stations in the coming weeks.

REUTERS PR RN2336

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