Reuters: Russia urged Iran on Wednesday to help it resolve a dispute over paperwork with Azerbaijan which is holding up parts for Iran's first nuclear power station, or face delays to commissioning the plant.
By Guy Faulconbridge
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia urged Iran on Wednesday to help it resolve a dispute over paperwork with Azerbaijan which is holding up parts for Iran's first nuclear power station, or face delays to commissioning the plant.
Russia says Azeri officials at the border with Iran last month halted a cargo of heat insulators for the Bushehr nuclear plant, which a Russian contractor is helping to build.
"If Iran wants to keep to the previously agreed timetable for the launch of the reactor at Iran's first nuclear power station, then it would be expedient to resolve this situation with Azerbaijan in a neighborly way," the Russian official said on condition his name was not used.
Earlier, an unidentified Iranian official was quoted by Iran's ISNA news agency as saying that Russia was responsible for the timely delivery of the equipment.
The heat insulators were stopped at Astara, on the Azeri-Iranian border on March 29, Russian officials said.
Azeri customs officials say the cargo needs a special permit which was not supplied but the Russian official blamed the delay on "a political decision by the republic's authorities." He did not elaborate.
Russia has already delivered nuclear fuel under a $1 billion contract to build the Bushehr plant, on the Gulf coast in southwest Iran, and Iranian officials say the reactor is likely to be started up in 2008.
Russia made a contract to build the plant in 1995 on the base of an earlier project begun in the 1970s by German firm Siemens. Siemens's project was disrupted by Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
The United States and Russia say the plant means Tehran does not need to enrich uranium itself. But Iranian officials say it is their right to have a domestic enrichment program.
Russia has tried to push Tehran to be more open about its nuclear program and has warned the West against pushing Iran's leaders into a corner.
(Additional reporting by Zahra Hosseinian in Tehran and Lada Yevgrashina in Baku; Editing by Jon Boyle)