Iran to launch Bushehr power plant in summer 2008

By Xinhua

Tehran : Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday that Tehran would put the country’s first nuclear power plant into operation with half capacity in the summer of 2008, the official IRNA news agency reported.

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“The Bushehr power plant will be launched at the capacity of 50 percent next summer,” Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by IRNA.

“Grounds would be prepared for injection of fuel to the 1,000-megawatt power station after completion of the nuclear fuel by Russia which will take place in eight stages,” he added.

However, the Russian contractor Atomostroiexport said earlier this month that it would take at least one year to start the operation of the power plant.

“The plant’s launch cannot be guaranteed before the end of 2008,” said a spokesman of the company.

Russia has started the delivery of nuclear fuel to Tehran since Dec. 17 and Iran has received two shipments of the fuel up to now. According to the agreement between the two countries, Russia would deliver 82 tons of nuclear fuel to Iran in eight consignments in two months.

Located in southwestern Iran, Bushehr is the country’s first nuclear power station, but work at the plant has been long delayed. Earlier this year, the two sides had disputes about the construction payment and accused each other of being responsible for the delays.

The United States and some of its allies have worried that Iran may use power plant as a civilian cover to develop atomic weapons and have called Russia to suspend the Bushehr project.

Russian Foreign Ministry, however, has promised that those fuel will be under control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying “all fuel that will be delivered will be under control and guarantees of the IAEA for the whole time it stays on Iranian territory.”