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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Iran's Nuclear Power Plant to Launch Operation in October

Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr will be launched in October, a high-ranking Iranian nuclear official said on Sunday.

"The work for the physical launch of the Bushehr nuclear power plant will begin at the end of Mehr (a month under the Iranian calendar that lasts from September 22 to October 21)," Ahmad Fayazbakhsh, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said.

Russia is building the $one-billion facility in the south of the country in accordance with a 1995 contract, and under UN supervision as Iran is under international scrutiny over its compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

The Bushehr project was originally scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2006, but the Russian contractor has postponed the date several times.

The project was originally started by Germany's Siemens in 1975, but Germans stopped the work and left the country without any prior notice following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Russia delivered its final and eighth fuel shipment to Bushehr on January 28, supplying a total of 82 metric tons of low-enriched uranium to the light-water nuclear power plant.

Iran has long sought to replace its fossil energy reserves with other sources of sustainable energy, including solar and nuclear power. But, the move has come under harsh criticism and even threats of military action by the US and its western allies which lauded Tehran's efforts to construct nuclear power plants prior to the Islamic Revolution

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West's illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

Iran has answered all outstanding questions of the International Atomic Energy Agency about the history of its past nuclear activities. The Islamic Republic has also repeatedly stressed that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA's questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.

Yet, the US has remained at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran's nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington's push for additional UN penalties contradicted the report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran's programs.

Political observers believe that following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head - one in November and the other one in February - which praised Iran's truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, efforts to impose further sanctions on Iran seem to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran's cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran's nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Iran has also insisted that it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in Bushehr.

(Source: Fars News Agency)

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