Putin promises to complete Iran's nuclear reactor

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured Iran that Moscow would not back out of a US$1 billion contract to complete a nuclear power plant in the Iranian port of Bushehr. Putin's remarks followed talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a summit of Caspian Sea nations in Tehran. The United States and other Western nations oppose the construction of the reactor, and believe that it is part of an effort by Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

Putin said that although revisions to the contract were necessary in order to clarify the legal and financial obligations of the two sides, Russia intends to go forward with the project. "Russia has clearly stated that it's going to complete this work," Putin said. "We are not renouncing this obligation."

Iran's nuclear program has been the subject of much recent controversy. The United States, France, and other Western nations oppose the program, saying Iran is using it as a cover for the development of nuclear weapons. Iran maintains that its reactor will only be used to generate nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Putin supported the Iranian view in his remarks, referring to Iran's "peaceful nuclear program".

Although Putin promised to complete the reactor, he avoided specifying a timetable. Russia claims that construction on the nuclear reactor has been delayed because Iran is behind in payments. Iran claims that its payments are up to date, and that the delays are a result of Russia bowing to Western pressure.