Source AP ©

Russia and Iran resolve dispute over nuclear power plant

Russia and Iran took a step Sunday toward resolving their dispute over payment for the construction of a nearly complete nuclear power plant Russia is building in Iran.

Russian and Iranian representatives who held negotiations in Moscow signed a protocol laying out financing plans for the remaining construction at the Bushehr plant, Atomstroiexport spokeswoman Irina Yesipova said. However, she said some issues still remained and that more talks would be held next month.

Amid Iran's defiance against international pressure to halt uranium enrichment activities, Russia earlier this year delayed Bushehr's launch, which had been set for September, saying Tehran was behind scheduled on payments. The international community fears Iran could be seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its uranium enrichment is meant only for nuclear energy purposes.

Iranian officials denied any payment delays under the US$1 billion (EUR740 million) contract and accused Russia of caving in to Western pressure. Moscow has cultivated close ties with Iran but has supported limited U.N. sanctions against Tehran recently while warding off U.S. efforts to level harsher punishments.

Yesipova suggested the protocol marked strong progress but not a full resolution to the dispute.

"If the financing plan is successfully implemented, a portion of the questions on the financing of Iran's first atomic power station plant will be removed," she said.

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