The first Iranian nuclear power plant is powering up and will be able to provide electricity to the nation’s cities by next month, according to Vice President Ali Akba Salehi.
The Iranian leader was quoted by the semi-official Fars news service as saying the 1,000-megawatt light-water nuclear reactor built by Russia in Bushehr has been loaded with enough fuel for the plant to go online.
“We sealed the lid of the reactor without any propaganda and fuss,” Salehi told Fars. “All fuel assemblies have been loaded into the core of the reactor.”
The next step is to wait for the water inside the core to reach the desired temperature, after which scientists will conduct a series of tests to determine whether the reactor is truly ready to provide power to Iranian citizens.
“We hope the Bushehr power plant will be connected to the country’s national power grid within the next one or two months,” Salehi said.
The fueling process, which involved low-enriched uranium, began in August, but was delayed after a leak was discovered in the storage pool for the reactor.
Salehi released a statement last month claiming that the delay was due to the leak, rather than a computer worm found in the laptops of several employees at the plant, the Stuxnet virus. Officials suspect the computer virus was the result of espionage on the part of Western agents aiming to slow down Iran’s nuclear development efforts.
Israel and the United States, as well as a number of other Western nations are convinced that Iran is intent on building a nuclear weapon of mass destruction, rather than simply producing nuclear energy for peaceful domestic purposes, as it claims.
The United Nations Security Council has repeatedly ordered Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program, which it refuses to do, and has since imposed four rounds of increasingly severe economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic as a means of forcing it to do so.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, often threatens in public speeches to annihilate the State of Israel.
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