The delay was announced a day after Mr. Medvedev said Moscow was not quite happy with the pace of talks with Iran over its nuclear programme and repeated his earlier warning about sanctions.

Russia has said the reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran will not come online this year as planned, even as President Dmitry Medvedev reiterated readiness to consider sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Russia’s Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Monday engineers were still working on “hydraulic systems” and “there will be no startup this year”. He insisted that the delay was purely technical and had nothing to do with politics.

Russia’s nuclear chief Sergei Kiriyenko said in February the Bushehr launch was scheduled for 2009.

The delay was announced a day after Mr. Medvedev said Moscow was not quite happy with the pace of talks with Iran over its nuclear programme and repeated his earlier warning about sanctions.

“If we fail to agree there are other instruments to move the process forward by different means,” he said on Sunday after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama in Singapore.

A senior Iranian lawmaker expressed his surprise over the Bushehr reactor delay. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission, described the Russian statement as “unusual and hasty” and demanded a detailed report on progress at the power plant from Iran’s atomic energy authority.

Last week, the same lawmaker sharply criticised Russia’s delay in the delivery of S-300 anti-aircraft systems contracted by Tehran in 2007.

Speaking to Mehr News Agency on Saturday, Mr. Boroujerdi warned Russia: “Iran is not a country which would stop short of action in dealing with countries who fail to deliver on their promises.”

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