The launch of Iran's Russian-built nuclear power plant will be postponed because of Iranian payment delays, Russian officials said Monday in statements reflecting Moscow's growing irritation with its close partner and a possible warming to Western-proposed sanctions.
Russia also said the delay of the launch, which had been planned for September, means that the uranium fuel needed to power the Bushehr reactor would not be sent to Iran this month as earlier planned, an announcement certain to anger Tehran.
Sergei Novikov, spokesman for Russia's federal nuclear agency Rosatom, told The Associated Press the launch date would be postponed by at least two months because the Iranians had made no payments since Jan. 17.
"The funding is two months behind, and that means a corresponding delay in schedule," Novikov said. "The fact remains: there is no money, and it's impossible to keep construction works going without money."
There are some points to consider in this late development:
1. Iran is in money trouble. In an earlier post, I linked to an op-ed piece that stated one good reason why this may coming to light, now.
2. Russia suspending work due to non-payment, may indicate that Russia is in money trouble too.
3. Russia could be looking for a way out of this deal, due to real concerns about Iran's nuclear program. This gives them a way to save face, without angering Iran, too much.
4. You can bet that the Iranians aren't happy now. It takes much of their saber-rattling power away.
5. No matter how we look at this, for now, this is good news today. Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow is another day.