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Iran expects Russia to honor Bushehr commitments on time

TEHRAN, October 26 (RIA Novosti) - Tehran expects Moscow to launch Iran's first nuclear power plant as scheduled, the Iranian foreign minister said on Monday.

Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, earlier said the Bushehr plant was 96% complete, almost all of the equipment had been installed, and that after testing the plant would go into full operation.

"We [Iran] expect Russian company Atomstroyexport and the Russian government, which supervises the company's work, to honor their commitments to launch the Bushehr nuclear power plant ... on time," Manouchehr Mottaki said.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko earlier said Bushehr could be launched by the year's end.

The construction of the Bushehr plant was started in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. embassy siege in Tehran.

Russia signed a contract with Iran to complete the plant in February 1998, originally due for completion at the end of 2006. The date was postponed several times over financial problems and Iranian claims that Russia was reluctant to finish the facility due to UN sanctions and suspicions of a covert nuclear weapons program.

Iran has been under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, used in both electricity generation and weapons production. Tehran has repeatedly rejected the demand, insisting it is pursuing a purely civilian program.

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