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Why Russia is stalling progress on Iran nuclear plant

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MOSCOWRussia may be starting to lose patience with its wayward Middle Eastern partner Iran, with delays mounting in the delivery of long-established contracts to provide sophisticated weaponry and civilian nuclear technology to the Islamic Republic.

"Russia is sympathetic to Iran, but it's also pragmatic," says Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the independent Institute of Near East Studies in Moscow. "Moscow did not agree to be used by the Iranians as an umbrella to protect it from fallout for its irresponsible nuclear policies or its adventurism in other parts of the Middle East. Russia isn't going to be patient forever."

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Smatko announced Monday that there will be yet another delay in the completion of Bushehr, a $1-billion civilian atomic power plant that Russia's state-owed Atomstroyexport has been building in southern Iran since 1995. The contract is regarded in Moscow as an important part of the country's plan to become a major global supplier of nuclear services.

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