News / Middle East

Iran Begins Loading Fuel into Core of Bushehr Nuclear Plant

Workers work in a part of the electricity generating plant of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, 26 Oct 2010
Workers work in a part of the electricity generating plant of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, 26 Oct 2010

Multimedia

Audio
  • Interview with Greg Thielmann, Arms Conotrol Association

Iranian media report workers have begun loading fuel into the core of the country's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr. The process began in August, but was delayed due to a leak in a storage pool.

Top Iranian officials watched as fuel began being loaded into the Bushehr nuclear power plant Tuesday.

Repeated delays in completing the plant, followed by delays in putting it online have created embarrassment for the Iranian government.

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency Ali Akbar Salehi spoke to Iranian TV says that today, Tuesday, marks the final stage in the start up process, as fuel is loaded into the reactor's core. He notes that the process is not finished, however, and that it could take two or three months to inject the full 163 fuel rods into the reactor.

Salehi also indicated that the plant probably won't be connected to Iran's national power grid until mid February. He claimed at the plant's inauguration in August that it would produce electricity by November.

Salehi's deputy, Mohammad Ahmadian, explained that a leak was partially to blame for the delay in completing the fuel injection process:

He says that the central pool of the reactor building was leaking and that the leakage needed to be localized and removed, prompting the delay.

Some press reports speculated that the plant's computers may also have become infected with the computer virus Stuxnet, creating havoc with its operating systems.

Russia, which built the plant, is providing it with nuclear fuel and will take back all spent fuel rods. Iran has also agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor the process.

The U.S. and other Western states have given Russia the green light to launch Bushehr but oppose Iran's illicit enrichment of uranium at a plant in Natanz. Tehran insists Natanz is part of a civilian nuclear program, but the West fears it is part of a covert project to build nuclear weapons.

The European Union has invited Iran to resume negotiations over its nuclear program in Vienna, next month. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has welcomed the talks, but Tehran has not formally accepted the invitation.

Greg Thielmann of Arms Control Association comments on Iran's nuclear activities:

Iranian-born analyst Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute in Washington argues that the Bushehr plant is mostly a sideshow, involving Iranian prestige:

"Bushehr is not really considered as the most sensitive part of this standoff with the West," said Vatanka. "So, I don't really know why Bushehr, in this context of potential resumption of talks on the 15th of November, is in any way a critical issue. I look at it as the Iranians trying to say 'look, we have a success here.' Clearly, they can't point to the same degree of success or advancement on the enrichment of uranium. The centrifuges at Natanz are not working the way they should."

Iran recently announced that it has 30 kilograms of 20 percent grade highly enriched uranium, enough to produce atomic bombs, according to experts. Such Iranian claims continue to worry the West that Tehran is proceeding with a covert nuclear program.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs