Iran’s Atomic Chief Says First Nuclear Plant to Come on Stream by January


bushehr-in-southern-iranIran finished loading fuel into the country’s first nuclear power reactor and aims to start up the plant in the southern city of Bushehr by late January, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said.

The water inside the reactor’s core needs to warm gradually, and a series of tests has to be carried out, Ali Akbar Salehi said yesterday, according to state-run news channel Press TV.

“We hope the Bushehr power plant will hook up with the national grid in one or two months,” Salehi said in a report published on Press TV’s website.

Iran is restricted by international sanctions over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies say is cover for the development of atomic weapons. Iran rejects the allegation and says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity and for other civilian purposes such as medical research.

The country began transferring fuel to the reactor area of the plant at a ceremony held on Aug. 21 to mark the opening of the Russian-built facility. It started loading fuel into the reactor in October. Under Iran’s agreement with Moscow-based Rosatom, the state-owned Russian company will supply uranium for the plant and take away spent fuel.

Iran, the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, may save 11 million barrels of crude or 1.8 billion cubic meters of gas a year by operating the Bushehr reactor, according to the London-based World Nuclear Association.