Iran will open its first nuclear power plant by September, according to Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
The plant in the southern city of Bushehr passed one of its “most important and final tests, the hot water test, before its inauguration,” Salehi said, according to an Iranian news report cited by AFP on Wednesday.
“Grounds are prepared for the final opening of the reactor. After 37 years, the grounds have been prepared for the opening,” he said.
“We have reached the point of no return,” Salehi said of the power plant.
He also said that international sanctions would fail to stop Iran’s nuclear progress.
Sanctions could “slow down the job but they would not stop activities,” he said, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency.RELATED:
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Salehi also said that if Iran faces problems obtaining equipment for its uranium enrichment program, “We will produce them by ourselves.”
Construction of the Bushehr power plant was first contracted by Berlin in 1975, but Germany ended its involvement after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Then Russia agreed to build the 1,000-megawatt reactor in 1999, but the $1 billion project has suffered repeated delays.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out against Russia’s plans to start the Bushehr plant, calling it “premature” in light of international concern over Iran’s nuclear program.
Teheran also plans to launch a new satellite in the last week of August, Salehi said.
Telecommunication Minister Reza Taghipour said the satellite, Rasad 1, marks Iran’s “newest achievement in space technology.”
Meanwhile, Iran said in a letter to the European Union that it’s ready for talks on its nuclear program but that the EU must first guarantee there would be no threats against Teheran, state TV reported on Tuesday.
The TV said the letter was sent by Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, to EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, detailing Teheran’s conditions for the talks.
It followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement a week ago in which he said Teheran would not hold such talks until late August, to “punish” the West for the latest UN sanctions. The EU and the US have also imposed their own, additional and tougher sanctions against Iran.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad set three conditions for a resumption of talks, saying countries who want to participate should make clear whether they oppose Israel’s purported atomic arsenal, whether they support the Non-Proliferation Treaty and whether they want to be friends or enemies with Iran. However, he said, participation in the talks was not contingent on the answers.
Jalili’s letter reiterated those three points and stressed that the EU must make it clear whether the talks will be aimed at “interaction and cooperation, or hostility and confrontation.”