"So far payments have been made according to the agreed schedule."

 

Problematic project

 

Saeedi said the financing problem was "related to the Russian  contractor and not the Iranian side" and added that Iran would come up with a solution to this in the coming days.

 

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The project has been beset by a catalogue of delays amid US  frustration that Moscow is involved in such a project at a time of  mounting international tension over the Iranian nuclear programme.

 

"The installations in the power plant are progressing well and the Russian contractor is doing its best so that it goes on stream according to schedule," Saeedi said.

 

The potential construction delay comes shortly before the expiry of the February 21 deadline set down by the UN Security Council for Iran to halt its nuclear work.


Tehran has refused to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that some Western countries fear could be used to make nuclear weapons rather than atomic fuel.

 

Security priority

 

Ali Larijani, the Iranian chief nuclear negotiator, has suggested that Iran places a formal limit on the degree of its enrichment as a guarantee that it is not seeking an atomic bomb.

 

Mohamed ElBaradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency chief, has said the Iran issue is "not going to be resolved through sanctions alone".

 

Larijani has suggested a limit on the degree of
nuclear enrichment [AP]

ElBaradei told Western powers on Monday that they need to reassure Iran over its security rather than just ratchet up sanctions if they want to resolve a nuclear standoff.

 

ElBaradei said: "You need to reach out to the country and bring them to engagement. You need to get that process going."

 

He said he expected the West to tighten sanctions imposed by the Security Council in December.

 

"We will probably go even further with sanctions if Iran will not comply [but] the nuclear issue is really the tip of the iceberg." 

 

"Iran feels insecure. They live in a neighbourhood which is not the most friendly," he said, pointing out that Pakistan and Russia both have nuclear weapons.

 

"There are grievances between Iran and the West. You have got to address the security issue."

Source: Agencies