Iran nuclear plant link-up to grid in August

AFP , Sunday 19 Jun 2011

Iran's first nuclear power plant, built by Russia, is to be connected to the national grid in early August

"Russian officials announced that they are ready to inaugurate the (Bushehr) plant and connect its electricity to the national grid in the first 10 days of August,"  the Iranian ambassador to Moscow, Reza Sajjadi, said in media reports on Sunday.

Sajjadi, quoted by the English-language paper Iran Daily, made the remarks after a meeting with officials of Russia's nuclear export agency Rosatom, which has built and overseen the construction of the Bushehr plant in southern Iran, the paper said.

The ambassador said Russia's energy minister, Sergei Shmatko, would attend the inauguration ceremony in Bushehr.

Iranian authorities are yet to set an official date for the plant's connection to the national grid, originally scheduled for the end of 2010 but postponed several times due to a series of technical problems.

Iran's nuclear chief, Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, said on June 9 that he could not set a "specific date" for the plant's connection to the grid.

"The work (to make the plant operational) is empirical, difficulties may arise during the work, and it will take time to resolve them," he said on state television. "Thus, one cannot set a specific date for the inauguration."

The Bushehr plant was started up in November 2010 but repeated technical problems delayed its operation, leading to the removal of its fuel in March.

Russia has blamed the delays on Iran for forcing its engineers to work with outdated parts in the facility, while the latest delay in March was pinned on internal wear-and-tear at the plant.

Russian authorities said in early April that the refuelling operation began after the plant had been re-checked and its various pieces "washed through."

The plant, which was officially inaugurated to great fanfare, was started again in early May, with Iranian media announcing it would be connected to the electricity grid in early July.

The construction of the plant started in the 1970s with the help of German company Siemens, which quit the project after the 1979 Islamic revolution over concerns about nuclear proliferation.

In 1994, Russia agreed to complete the plant and provide fuel for it, with the supply deal committing Iran to returning the spent fuel, amid Western concerns over the Islamic republic's controversial uranium enrichment programme.


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