Fuel transfer into Bushehr nuclear reactor started
Iran continues nuclear programme in defiance of UN sanctions.
Iran on Saturday began transferring fuel into the country’s first nuclear plant amid international concerns about the intentions of the regime’s nuclear enrichment programme. President Ahmadinejad has warned of a global response to a military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.
The transfer of the fuel is being watched by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and will enable the commissioning of the plant by October or November, according to Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Ali Shirzadian.
The Islamic republic's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi last week said that the transfer would be complete by September 5.
The fuel is being supplied by Russia, which also built the plant. Russia has supplied 82 tonnes of fuel for Bushehr and also plans to take back the spent material to avoid any misuse.
Iran is pressing ahead with its civilian nuclear programme, insisting on its peaceful nature, in spite of renewed international sanctions over the regimes insistence on pushing ahead with uranium enrichment.
Tehran says the enrichment is necessary to guarantee the fuel supply for a nuclear programme that will eventually provide 20,000MW from ten nuclear reactors.
"The Bushehr plant has a lifespan of 60 years and we plan to use it for 40 years. Suppose we buy fuel for 10 years from Russia. What are we going to do for the next 30 to 50 years?" state news agency IRNA quoted Saheli as saying.
But the US and Israel are amongst the countries that suspect the regime is pursuing a nuclear arsenal, and these concerns have led to a fourth round of UN sanctions in June.
The sanctions threatened to derail Bushehr, as Russia endorsed them in spite of its role in the project.
Meanwhile, Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hinted at responding to a military strike on nuclear installations with worldwide terrorist attacks.
"Our options will have no limits... They will touch the entire planet," he told the Qatari daily Al-Sharq in reply to a question about Tehran's reaction in the event of such an attack.
"I believe that some think about attacking Iran, especially those within the Zionist entity (Israel). But they know that Iran is an indestructible bulwark and I do not think their American masters will let them do it," Ahmadinejad was quoted in the article which was printed on Saturday.
"They also know that the Iranian response will be hard and painful," he added.
Iran has long been accused of operating an extensive secret service network abroad, and of supporting radical groups such as Hezbolah and Hamas in Palestine.