Iran says Bushehr plant nearly ready to join power grid

Salehi tells Iranian television that progress being made at power plant, says fuel has been pumped into core for several months.

Bushehr Reactor 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Bushehr Reactor 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant is scheduled to be connected to the national electricity network in February 2011, one month later than previously stated.
The country's Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali-Akbar Salehi had previously said that the Russian-built 1,000-megawatt reactor would be up and running by January 2011.
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On Sunday, however, Salehi told official Iranian television station IRIB, "As we have repeatedly announced, work in the Bushehr power plant is progressing well by God's grace," PressTV reported.
He added that Iran began injecting fuel into the reactor's core in late October and said he hoped tests necessary for further progress would be completed by mid January.
The Islamic Republic has given many conflicting reports regarding their nuclear progress. In early December, Salehi said that all relevant tests had been completed.
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The startup of the Bushehr power plant, a project completed with Russian help but beset by years of delays, will deliver Iran the central stated goal of its atomic work — the generation of nuclear power.
The United States and some of its allies, however, believe the Bushehr plant is part of a civil energy program that Iran is using as cover for a secret aim to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies the accusation.
The Bushehr plant itself is not among the West's concerns because safeguards are in place to ensure that the spent fuel will be returned to Russia and cannot be diverted to weapons making.