Monday, March 12, 2007

Russia Delays Iranian Nuclear Plant

This story sounds like good news on the face of it, but Putin is such a Machiavellian that I don't believe it for a second.

Read the story, and I'll tell you what I think at the end of the post:

MOSCOW - The state-run Russian company building Iran's first nuclear power plant said Monday that the reactor's launch will be postponed because of Iranian payment delays.

Russian media reports, meanwhile, indicated that the Kremlin was growing tired of Iran's nuclear defiance in the face of U.N. Security Council sanctions, with three agencies citing an unidentified official warning Iran to cooperate and stop playing "anti-American games."

Russia, which has remained close to Iran even as the Islamic republic defied international demands to stop enriching uranium and answer questions about its nuclear program, has accused Iran of paying only a fraction of the $25 million monthly payments for construction work at the Bushehr reactor in recent months. Officials have warned that the funding delays would push back both the launch — originally planned for September — and the delivery of the uranium fuel needed to power the reactor.

"It will be impossible to launch the reactor in September, and there can be no talk about supplying fuel this month," Atomstroiexport said in a statement that followed the collapse of bilateral talks last week on the funding dispute. It accused the Iranians of failing to give a written obligation to resume funding for the project.

Iran has urged Russia to speed up the fuel delivery, but Russian officials said it would only be delivered six months before the plant's launch.

In a signal that Russia could be close to yielding to Western push for stronger sanctions, Russian news agencies reported Monday that the country's support for Iran could end if it continues to ignore international demands to freeze enrichment.

ITAR-Tass, Interfax and RIA-Novosti all carried identical remarks by an unidentified official, who warned that Iran must answer the U.N. nuclear watchdog's queries about its nuclear program, which the United States and others say is aimed at building an atomic bomb.

Russia's leadership often uses remarks by anonymous sources to convey its position on sensitive issues.

Ok, so my theory is that Russia is simply threatening stronger sanctions as a way to get Iran to make their payments in a more timely manner.

Simple, huh?

I don't think any help will be forthcoming from Russia on the Iranian Nuclear front.