Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Decision soon on Bushehr shipment held up in Azerbaijan

A decision on the Russian equipment for Iran's first nuclear plant that has been held up for over a month on the Azerbaijan-Iran border will be taken soon, an Azerbaijani deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday.

"We have received today the requested documentation on [nuclear] cargo from the Russian Embassy," Araz Azimov told a news conference in Baku. "We are studying it and will soon announce our decision."

A column of vehicles carrying heat insulators for the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which Russian contractor Atomstroyexport is building in the southwest of the Islamic Republic, was stopped at the border between Azerbaijan and Iran in late March.

Atomstroyexport earlier said the cargo destined for Bushehr was not a dual-purpose product or nuclear material, but insulating equipment. "The shipment was registered in line with all accepted international practical regulations."

However, Azerbaijani authorities said they had not received information from Russia over the cargo in a timely and appropriate manner.

Azimov said he met with Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Naser Hamidi Zare on Tuesday and assured him that the delay was caused by technical formalities rather than political issues.

Iran is currently under three sets of UN sanctions over its uranium program. The latest resolution against Iran froze accounts of certain Iranian companies and banks, and introduced inspections for goods leaving and entering the Islamic Republic.

Russia's ambassador to Azerbaijan, Vasily Istratov, confirmed on Wednesday that the shipment would soon be delivered to Iran.

News source: RIA Novosti

UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that Azerbaijan has released the shipment of Russian equipment for Bushehr's nuclear powerplant on Thursday. The cargo has passed through the Astara customs checkpoint on the border with Iran, said an official with Azerbaijan's State Customs Committee.

No comments: