Iran starts trial operation at its first nuclear power plant

Published February 25th, 2009 - 11:43 GMT

Iranian and Russian officials tested Wednesday the first nuclear power plant built in Iran. According to the AP, the pilot operations at the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor in the southern Iranian port of Bushehr, built with Russian assistance under a $1 billion contract, have long been delayed over construction and supply glitches.


The plant will be run on enriched uranium.


At the Bushehr plant, Iranian nuclear spokesman Mohsen Shirazi said virtual fuel, consisting of lead meant to imitate the density of enriched uranium, was being loaded into the reactor.


Russian nuclear agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko inspected the process with his Iranian counterpart, Vice President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh. Aghazadeh, who also heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the test was going well and the virtual fuel was loaded "in a proper way."


"Today was one of the most important days for the Iranian nation," said Aghazadeh. "We are approaching full exploitation of this plant."


Kiriyenko said work remains to be done to "speed up the launching of the site" but the Russian-Iranian team was "approaching the final stage" before the plant becomes operational. "This (test) is one of the major elements of an extensive project," he said. "After the virtual fueling, we will check to see how the reactor will operate."


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