News / Europe

Iran's Nuclear Chief: Bushehr Plant Will Go Online by Month's End

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, indicated Friday that Iran's controversial nuclear power plant at Bushehr will go online seven to eight days after Russia delivers its nuclear fuel supply on August 21.  Russia indicated that it would start loading fresh nuclear fuel into the reactor on that date.

Iranian state media on Friday trumpeted the imminent start-up of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in what appears to be a display of national pride.  Past announcements that the plant would come online had been met with repeated deceptions.

Atomic Energy Chief Ali Akbar Salehi told journalists that the plant would be launched next week, when nuclear fuel is "transferred inside the Bushehr plant."  He added that it would then require "seven or eight days to place [the fuel] inside the reactor."

He says that from our perspective as you introduce the fuel into the reactor, that reactor becomes operational.  However, a conventional power plant is different from a nuclear power plant, because the nuclear plant takes more time to be up and running.

The spokesman for Russia's atomic energy agency, Rosatom, Sergei Novikov, discussed the matter earlier Friday.

He says that the process of loading fresh nuclear fuel into the reactor building would begin on August 21, at which point it would be inside the pre-reactor storage facility.  He emphasizes that the nuclear reactor will then officially be classified as a nuclear energy installation.  The testing phase, he adds, will then be complete and the physical launch will begin.

Novikov went on to say that the entire process would take place "under the supervision of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors."

Iranian nuclear chief Salehi noted that the "fuel is sealed," adding that "IAEA inspectors must be present to remove [those] seals."

Iran's Mehr News Agency reported that a second and final injection of nuclear fuel would take place on September 5.  At that point, according to Salehi, the plant would reach "50 percent of its electrical generating capacity."  He added that six or seven additional months would be needed for the plant to be fully operational.

German firms first began work on the Bushehr plant in 1974, which came to a stop after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.  Russia took over the stalled project in 1994, progressing slowly.

Political and commercial ties between Russia and Iran have soured in recent months amid mutual recriminations.  Russia voted in June, along with the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, to impose fresh sanctions on Tehran for refusing to stop enriching uranium.

Tehran insists that its controversial nuclear program is intended entirely for civilian purposes, pointing specifically to the Bushehr plant.  Western states suspect that Iran's civilian program is masking covert activity to build nuclear weapons.

Iranian-born analyst Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute in Washington thinks the Bushehr plant start-up is more of a symbolic victory than a technical achievement.

"One thing that we have to bear in mind when we are talking about the Bushehr plant: It isn't so much the value that the Bushehr plant has in terms of the overall nuclear program that Iran has going on," said Alex Vatanka. "It's just one aspect of a much broader nuclear sector that they are setting up.  But from a diplomatic point of view, particularly in this day and age where Iran is feeling the pressure on the sanctions front.  What they can do, which might be enough for them, in terms of take it and run with it, what they can do is to use this and say, 'gotcha.'  All the talk about putting pressure on us, containing us, limiting our ties to the world, well, they're not working."

Vatanka argues the opening of the Bushehr plant will also be a major victory for the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose opponents have criticized the amount of money that Iran has spent on the Bushehr plant with little to show for it.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs