Iran ignores earthquake warning at nuclear plant

As reactor becomes operational, scientists warn Gulf port Bushehr could see earthquake nuclear disaster similar to that of Fukushima, Japan.

bushehr_311 reuters (photo credit: Stringer Iran / Reuters)
bushehr_311 reuters
(photo credit: Stringer Iran / Reuters)
Nuclear scientists in Iran have warned of the serious implications an earthquake in Iran's gulf region could have for the nuclear reactor in Bushehr, the Daily Telegraph reported Sunday. The announcement comes only a week after Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Saleh said that the Bushehr power plant is operational.
The Daily Telegraph report warned that the "seismic danger to Iran" and the reactor could create a disaster scene similar to that of Fukushima, Japan, the site of a Japanese reactor that was crippled after March's tsunami hit. Iran lies on one of the world's most unstable earthquake zones.
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The Iranian government, in a rush to make the reactor operational, has apparently ignored the scientists' warning to pay heed, the Daily Telegraph reported, despite the fact that "Iranian officials have raised a number of serious issues highlighting the dangers earthquakes pose to the Bushehr plant," a Western diplomat said.
The plant raises concern because its foundation was laid by a German consortium in the 1970s and may not be able to withstand the shock of a significant quake.
Russia has helped Tehran since the 1990s to work to complete the plant after signing a $1 billion deal with the Iranian government. 
As for the plant itself, the Iranian foreign minister told Iranian Press TV that "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.
The United States and other Western nations have 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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