MOSCOW: Iran’s first nuclear plant, which Russia is building in the city of Bushehr, will be functional by August, a Russian atomic official said on Thursday.
“We are counting on the nuclear power station launching in August, if everything goes as planned,” Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s federal atomic energy agency, was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. “The resolution now being prepared on Iran will not in any way affect this.” The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia, have broadly agreed a new sanctions text aimed at punishing Iran for its defiance over a nuclear drive the west fears is aimed at building an atomic bomb.
Moscow, which has long enjoyed close ties with Tehran, has backed the US-proposed draft resolution, exasperated by Iran’s intransigence and despite a surprise nuclear deal agreed between Iran, Brazil and Turkey this week. But while Russia is adamant the launch of the Bushehr plant will not be stalled by the new resolution, the sanctions would halt Russia’s contract for the sale of S-300 surfaceto- air missiles to Tehran, according to Western diplomats.
The UN resolution would expand an existing arms embargo, measures against Iran’s banking sector and ban it from mining uranium and developing ballistic missiles overseas, a US official said in New York.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 21st, 2010.