Welcome to AtomWatch - world nuclear power news and analysis

This blog is aimed at tracing the world news related to nuclear power development internationally and in particular countries. Being an independent resource, we accept all kinds of opinions, positions and comments, and welcome you to discuss the posts and tell us what you think.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Iran, Russia seek Bushehr completion

Iranians and Russians are meeting this week to discuss the completion of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, which is being constructed with Russian assistance.
A delegation from the Russian power construction company Atomstroyexport will be heading to Iran to discuss the completion of the 1,000-megawatt power plant on Monday. Bushehr, an $800-million project, is Iran's first nuclear power plant and is being built on Iran's coast with Russian assistance under a 1995 contract.

The project was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2006, but it has suffered numerous delays because of disputes over payment. Russian MP Konstantin Beschetnov said it was still too early to determine the completion date, but assured it would be completed successfully, according to comments he made to the Russian RIA Novosti.

The Russian ambassador to Iran has given assurances that Bushehr will be supplying nuclear energy by early next year. Russia sent the eighth and final nuclear fuel shipment to Iran in January.

The latest development is a source of concern in the West, which is pressuring Iran to abandon its nuclear program. The reactor in Bushehr is also worrying the countries surrounding Iran. Iran's Sunni neighbors are unhappy with the prospect of Iran becoming a nuclear power in the region, and are concerned about the environmental damage and health hazards that could be inflicted in the case of a nuclear disaster.

Bushehr sits on the Iranian coast and the reactor, when completed, will be closer to countries like Bahrain, on the other side of the Gulf, than to the Iranian capital Teheran. There are concerns that a military standoff in the region could disrupt oil exports, especially since Iran has threatened any foreign attack on its nuclear installations would be met with its obstructing strategic waterways in the Gulf.

Iran is under international pressure to abandon its nuclear program for fear that it is secretly manufacturing a nuclear bomb. However, the oil-rich country insists the program is for peaceful purposes only, and defends its right to possess nuclear technology.

In addition to concerns over Russian-Iranian cooperation in Bushehr, the United States also fears Moscow will sell Iran the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. If Teheran acquired this system it would significantly boost its defenses and it would make any military strike on Iran more complicated.

Meanwhile, Teheran has announced plans to build a second nuclear reactor, with a view to constructing others. The new 360-megawatt nuclear power plant will be constructed in Darkhoin, in the southwestern Khuzestan province, and is likely to be an additional headache for world powers trying to force Teheran to abandon its nuclear program.

Several sets of economic sanctions imposed on Iran have so far not yielded positive results as far as the international community is concerned.

The United States has implied that a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities cannot be ruled out, but analysts say this is unlikely to take place during the year of a US presidential election.

(Source: Jerusalem Post)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Iran want Nuclear Energy why not allow them to use Thorium which is more abuntant and can not be easily used in WMD's?

http://www.power-technology.com/features/feature1141/
http://thoriumenergy.com.au/FedSubmission6.doc
http://blog.heritage.org/2008/07/09/thorium-nuclear-reactors-promising/
http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/3795#comments_top

Alexandra Prokopenko said...

I suppose that allowing Iran to use Thorium based technologies is a political issue - no country out of thorium reactor suppliers would make a contract with Iran claimed to be on the "axis of evil" (developed Western democracies under influence of the USA will not, for sure). Russia does not care much of whom ever Uncle Sam calls evil, they want to export their reactors. Again, if Iran did get a nuclear technology that does not allow getting weapon uranium, there would be no reason to call them a threat to the US and attack them and get control over their oil reserves, just like with Iraq. US desperately needs oil. That's all about money, guys.

rsm said...

Also, thorium is only a fertile fuel, it is not fissile. One still needs enriched uranium to get a thorium breeder up and running

St. Michael Traveler said...

Iran and Nuclear Fuel
The whole issue of conflict with Iran is about control of the sources of energy, oil and nuclear fuel. British-American control of the sources of energy, oil, started once the value of oil over coal was demonstrated by German engineers especially for propulsion of ships.

The second main source of energy is nuclear power generation. The efforts to monopolize nuclear fuel production started in 1978, when the Nuclear Suppliers Group tried to impose restrictions on the right of developing countries to enrich their own uranium, a right. Since Article IV of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ensures access to peaceful uses of nuclear technology for non-nuclear weapon states, the technology for uranium enrichment must be permitted to all states under the current nonproliferation regime. Countries like Iran therefore, are permitted to develop their own enrichment technology for peaceful nuclear energy production. Iran has argued for an international nuclear fuel consortium to operate Iranian nuclear enrichment. Iranians assert that this international cooperative arrangement and IAEA oversight together will eliminate USA fear that Iran is attempting to use the technology to develop nuclear weapon.

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) is a USA initiative that offers an international control over production of nuclear fuel and disposal of the associated nuclear wastes. GNEP-initiative monopolizes nuclear fuel production and waste management infrastructure.

Global Nuclear Power Infrastructure (GNPI) is a Russian initiative.
The Angarsk Electrolyzing and Chemical Combine, a plant created to enrich uranium for the Soviet nuclear program is located in Angarsk in southeastern Siberia, Russia. The international uranium enrichment center" (IUEC) in Angarsk objective is to provide a guaranteed supply of uranium fuel for countries which do not enrich uranium themselves, Iran, India and others. Russia will retain exclusive control of all sensitive enrichment technology.

All these initiatives, both GNEP and GNPI have one thing in common, monopolizing production of nuclear fuel. Any nation who would have nuclear reactor but can not control the supplier of nuclear fuel is not an independent nation. The case of Iran and Russia as supplier of the fuel demonstrates my argument. The Iranian problem for receiving fuel from Russia for Bushehr - Iran Nuclear Reactor was greatly co-opted by the United States forcing Iran to initiate her own fuel production.