(photo credit:Stringer Iran / Reuters)
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that the Bushehr power plant is operational, Press TV reported on Wednesday.
"As we have previously announced, Bushehr power plant has reached the criticality stage, meaning it has been successfully launched," Salehi reportedly said.
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Criticality is the stage in a nuclear reaction when the fissile material is self-sustaining.
"This stage lasts for two months. We hope the plant will gain some 40 percent of its power within the next one or two months," Salehi added.
The Iranian foreign minister also said that the Bushehr plant is one of the safest in the world.
Last week, a senior Russian diplomat said that the Bushehr, a Russian-built plant, will be fully operational within weeks.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov spoke two days after the
company that built the plant, a politically charged project that faced
repeated delays, said the reactor had begun operating at a low level for
tests before bringing it on line.
Begun in the 1970s by a German consortium, construction of the plant was
abandoned after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and has faced repeated
delays since the mid-1990s, when Russia began work to complete it under a
$1 billion deal with Tehran.
The United States and other Western nations for years urged Russia to
abandon the project, fearing it would help Iran develop nuclear weapons.
But an agreement obliging Tehran to repatriate spent nuclear fuel to
Russia eased those concerns.
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