Iran launches Bushehr nuclear power plant

Iran held on Monday the official opening ceremony of its first nuclear power plant completed after long delay with Russia’s assistance.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Sergei Kiriyenko attended the ceremony.

“This demonstrates that Russia has met all its obligations [under the construction contract] despite the adverse political situation [surrounding the project],” Kiriyenko said.

The first unit at Bushehr has capacity to generate 1,000 megawatts. It was connected to the grid last week.

The Bushehr power plant will initially work at 40% capacity under the supervision of Russian experts. Russian officials said on Monday the plant could reach 100% of its generating capacity by the end of 2011.

Under a bilateral agreement, approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Russia will operate the plant, supply its fuel and take away all the spent fuel for the next two or three years, but will eventually hand over full control to Iran.

The construction of Bushehr has taken more than three decades and has been dogged by delays.

Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1995 to complete the plant, which German companies first began back in 1975.

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