Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant near completion

Russian nuclear boss says plant to be online before summer's end.

Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, during a visit to the Bushehr site in 2009.
Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, during a visit to the Bushehr site in 2009.

The Russian-built 1,000-MW Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran is nearing completion, according to the head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency.

His statement corroborates a statement made by an Iranian official about the imminent launch of the plant, while disagreeing on the precise timing of the plant coming online.

Sergei Kiriyenko told Russian press that “"the preparation of the Bushehr nuclear power plant for its launch is going according to plan. The launch has been set for the end of the summer, and we are on schedule."

"This plant will be launched according to schedule at the end of the spring and will run the same as the other nuclear plants in the world," Ali Akbar Saleh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization was quoted by the Iranian news agency ILNA in March. The Iranian spring ends in late June.

The Bushehr plant has been delayed for years following Iranian difficulties to pay the Russian contractors on schedule, technical hold-ups as the original—but never completed—1970s German design of the facility was being returned to a Russian design, and because of political hold-ups with U.S. sanctions on Iran and attempts to dissuade Russia from moving ahead with the project.

Iran is hoping to launch the construction of a large number of NPPs to meets its spiralling power demand, and an operational Busher plant would enable Iran to make the technological leap towards a more wide-ranging nuclear programme. “Operating the Bushehr facility could therefore allow Iran some reverse engineering opportunities and help it leap forward with its own designs, something that has worried the international community although Iran’s large uranium enrichment programme has been a more important source of concern,” says Sam Ciszuk, Middle East analyst at Global Insight.

Holger Rogner, section head at the IAEA, says that worries about operational safety, at least, are largely unfounded: “In Iran the issue is enrichment, people don’t know where the material is going. But in terms of safety, I think they have a well educated nuclear workforce, and I don’t think they have interest to leave a bad example for the world. If people adhere to their manuals and do their job conscientiously, things should be OK.”


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