‘Bushehr nuclear reactor operations delayed’

Transferring Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor to Iranian technicians has been delayed due to technical considerations.

Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor 311 Reu (photo credit: Raheb Homavandi / Reuters)
Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor 311 Reu
(photo credit: Raheb Homavandi / Reuters)
A provisional acceptance agreement transferring Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant over to Iranian technicians has been delayed by three months, the Russian state company contracted to construct the facility confirmed late Monday.
Iran has signed an agreement with NIAEP-Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom, to construct the Bushehr plant.
Vladimir Pavlov, Atomstroyexport’s deputy director responsible for constructing power plants in Iran and Turkey, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency that the Bushehr nuclear power plant had originally been scheduled to be transferred to Iranian technicians for operation by late December but will now take place in late March 2013.
The three-month delay is due to technical considerations arising from the need to integrate Russian- built components into the original German-constructed plant, Pavlov said.
After Iran signs the acceptance agreement, the plant will operate at a rate determined by Iranian technicians, according to reports in Iran’s state media.
The Bushehr plant predates the Islamic Republic. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi first began the project in 1974, when Iran signed a $4-6 billion contract with a German company, Kraftwerk Union AG, a joint venture between Siemens and AEG Telefunken, which began construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant a year later.
However, work stopped on the plant in January 1979 and Kraftwerk pulled out of the project in July that year, two months after Iranians voted to become an Islamic Republic.
One reactor was left half-complete and the other around 85 percent finished.
Iran tried to revive its nuclear program in 1990, but it was not until 1995 that Tehran signed a contract with Russia’s Atomic Energy Ministry to complete the work.
In 2011, Iran said that it had started using 500MW of nucleargenerated electricity from the plant, around 50% of its nominal capacity. In August, Atomstroyexport announced that Bushehr’s first power unit had been brought to 100% capacity.
Since August, Atomstroyexport has continued to test the plant, prior to transferring it to Iranian technicians.
Atomstroyexport had originally scheduled to transfer operations of the plant to Iran in December, NIAEP director Valery Limarenko told Russia’s Interfax news agency earlier this month.
Limarenko said that after operations of Bushehr plant is officially transferred to Iran, around 300 Russian nuclear specialists would remain in Iran to assist their Iranian colleagues to operate the facility.