Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia, Iran set up joint venture to operate Bushehr power station

RIA Novosti

12:15 21/08/2010

BUSHEHR (Iran), August 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia signed on Saturday an agreement with Iran to set up a joint venture to operate the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

Under the agreement, Russia will delegate full control of the plant to Iran over a period of two or three years, the head of the Russia Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), Sergei Kiriyenko, told a news conference, without specifying when this will happen.

"Today we signed an important agreement to set up a join venture to operate the Bushehr power station. It will be 50-50 in the beginning... But gradually the number of the Russian personnel will be decreased, as will be our share in the capital stock," Kiriyenko said.

"Over a period of two or three years, the Iranian personnel will be given almost full control of the power station," he said.

Iran began fuelling up its first nuclear station earlier on Saturday. The reactor, however, will be started up later this year, Kiriyenko said.

The reactor will only be used for civilian purposes, he said.

The plant's launch will include several stages, each of which will require permission from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), he added.

Experts say the Bushehr power station should begin to produce electricity in a month.

The construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant has taken 35 years and has been dogged by delays. Russia agreed to complete construction in 1998.

Under a bilateral agreement, Russia will supply the plant with fuel and take away the nuclear waste.

Kiriyenko said Russia will supply Bushehr with as much fuel as necessary.

"There will be no problems with supplying Iran's first nuclear power station," he said.

But despite the fuel agreement with Russia, AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran will continue to enrich uranium.

"The Bushehr plant has a lifespan of 60 years and we plan to use it for 40 years. Suppose we buy fuel for 10 years from Russia, what are we going to do for the next 30 to 50 years?" Salehi was quoted by the official Iranian news agency IRNA as saying on Friday.

Russia is ready to supply Iran with radioactive isotopes for a medical research reactor in Tehran - the country's only nuclear reactor besides Bushehr, Kiriyenko said. The Islamic republic began a program to enrich uranium to 20% for the Tehran reactor earlier this year.

Western powers suspect Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons under the guise of its nuclear program, a charge Tehran strongly denies, saying the program is aimed at the peaceful generation of civilian energy.

On June 9, 2010, the UN Security Council approved a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, including tougher financial controls and an expanded arms embargo, as well as an asset ban on three dozen companies and a travel freeze on individuals.

Later, the United States and the European Union imposed extra sanctions against Iran, including tougher restrictions on the energy sector and a tougher trade embargo.

The construction of Bushehr has not been affected by the sanctions.



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list