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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs