News / Middle East

Iran Continues to Load Fuel into Nuclear Plant

Russian and Iranian engineers are loading uranium fuel into Iran's nuclear power plant at Bushehr.

Bushehr is Iran's first nuclear power plant and is located in the southwest part of the country.

John Parker, a Russia and Iran expert at the National Defense University (expressing his personal views) says construction of the power plant has taken a long time.  

"It was started by the German Siemens plant - it had the contract with the Shah's government back in the 1970s and worked on it from 1974 to 1980 when construction was halted because of the Iran-Iraq war," Parker said.  "Then the new Islamic Republic government shopped around for a new contractor - had quite a bit of trouble getting anybody who would be interested in doing it."

Parker says under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the two sides signed an agreement in 1989 that included a clause on cooperation in nuclear issues and the peaceful use of atomic power.

"With the post-Soviet Russia being in desperate economic straits, there was a great interest on the Russian side in making money anywhere and their nuclear power construction industry was in terrible shape after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. So negotiations began between independent Russia and the Islamic Republic around 1992," said Parker.  

"They signed a contract to build Bushehr in October 1995. It was supposed to take 55 months to finish, which meant that it should have been wrapped up around spring of the year 2000. So it's roughly 10 years behind schedule. It's a 1,000 mega watt power generating nuclear plant," he added.

On August 21, engineers began loading fuel into Bushehr - the first step in making it a fully-operational electricity generating plant.

Greg Thielmann is with the Arms Control Association, a private research firm.

"The Russians are providing the low enriched uranium and also committed to removing the spent fuel which is very crucial to non-proliferation concerns, since it can therefore not be used for ill purposes by the Iranians afterwards," said Thielman.  "And it will be under the International Atomic Energy Agency inspection process - so that should render it safe from any contribution to a nuclear weapons program."

John Parker says it will take time before Bushehr generates electricity.

"There are several stages before it actually begins generating electricity. They load the fuel, they have to do all sorts of tests - tests take two or three months if everything goes well. So I would not expect any electricity generation until this fall, at the earliest," Parker said.

Iran has always insisted its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes. But the international community has been trying to pressure Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program at another facility - Natanz. Highly-enriched uranium could lead to the manufacture of a nuclear weapon. The United Nations Security Council has passed four sets of sanctions against Iran.

Experts say the international community's reaction to the start-up of Bushehr - other than Israel, which called it "unacceptable" - was muted.

Greg Thielmann says the United States has also changed its thinking. He says initially, anything that would increase Iran's competence in nuclear power production was a subject of concern.

"Over time, U.S.-Russian consultations have reassured the U.S. government somewhat that with the understandings reached regarding providing the fuel and removing the spent fuel, that U.S. concerns have been lessened," said Thielman.  "I think it is also probably just an acknowledgment over time that Iran had acquired a lot of expertise needed through its uranium enrichment program at Natanz, that any kind of additional knowledge or experience gained at Bushehr was less critical to a potential nuclear weapons program than what it was doing elsewhere."

Experts say the international community's quiet reaction to the start-up of Bushehr does not mean that it will lessen its pressure on Iran to forego its uranium enrichment program.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid