Iran's first nuclear power plant connected to grid

Reuters , Monday 5 Sep 2011

Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant has finally come online, for civil energy uses

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Bushehr nuclear power plant, located about 1,200 km south of Tehran

Iran's first nuclear power plant has started adding electricity to the national grid, media reported Sunday, coming onstream on Saturday night after years of delays.

"The Bushehr nuclear power plant joined the national grid on Saturday at 23:29 (1859 GMT) with the power of around 60 megawatts," the ISNA news agency reported.

Hamid-Khadem Qaemi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation, told Iran's Arabic language TV station Al-Alam that the plant would be officially inaugurated by September 12, by which time it would be operating at 40 per cent capacity.

The agency was not immediately available for comment.

The $1 billion, 1,000-megawatt plant on the Gulf coast is the first of what Iran hopes will become a network of nuclear facilities that will reduce its reliance on its abundant fossil fuels.

Started by Germany's Siemens in the 1970s before Iran's Islamic Revolution, the project was later taken over by Russian engineers and has since suffered a series of delays.

The West fears Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at making atomic weapons, a charge that Tehran denies.

Experts say firing up the Bushehr plant will not bring Iran any closer to building a nuclear bomb because Russia will supply the enriched uranium for the reactor and take away spent fuel that could be used to make weapons grade plutonium.

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