Russia says Bushehr nuclear power plant to start work on schedule

The Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran will go into operation by the end of the summer, the head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) said on Wednesday.

"The preparation of the Bushehr nuclear power plant for its launch is going according to plan. The launch has been set for the end of the summer, and we are on schedule," Sergei Kiriyenko said.

Speaking at a news conference, he also said Russia could build a nuclear power plant in Syria.

Asked whether it was not dangerous to build nuclear power stations in the region, he said that "any work in the nuclear sector proceeds in accordance with existing rules."

"If they are violated, it is dangerous to build nuclear power plants anywhere," he said.

The launch date for Bushehr has been postponed many times for financial and technical reasons. Iranian officials have claimed that Russia was reluctant to finish the facility due to UN sanctions and concerns voiced by world powers that the plant is part of a covert nuclear weapons program.

The United States and other Western countries suspect Iran of developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear energy program and are seeking new sanctions following Iran's move to enrich uranium to 20%.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier sanctions, if imposed, were unlikely to target Iran's energy sector or its international trade.

Russia has consistently said the dispute should be resolved through diplomatic means, but has increasingly expressed a willingness to consider sanctions.

The construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant began in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high-technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. Embassy siege in Tehran.

Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1998 to complete the plant.

Russia's nuclear fuel producer TVEL has said it will deliver its next fuel shipment to Bushehr a year after the plant is launched.


DATE: May 12, 2010

Topics: NPP, Asia, Iran, NPP Bushehr

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