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Iran says Bushehr nuclear power plant delayed by another year

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Tehran, Aug 22, IRNA -- Iran said Sunday its first nuclear power 
plant, being built with Russian assistance in southern Bushehr, will 
become operational in October 2006, a year behind schedule. 
Speaking to reporters here, head of Iran`s Atomic Energy 
Organization Asadollah Sabouri, cited some of the complexities which 
are dogging the project, including the deal related to the return of 
spent fuel and its costs. 
"One subject which has not been concluded yet is related to the 
deal on the return of spent fuel, which is very complex," he said, 
stressing that `the state decision in Iran is to return the spent fuel
to Russia`. 
"Given that the return and transfer of the spent fuel from the 
power plant to Russia will be carried out eight or nine years later, 
it is hard to figure out the transfer costs now," Sabouri added. 
The contract for the return of the spent fuel, however, has been 
finalized, and differences exist over the costs, the official said. 
According to Sabouri, the two countries have set the deadline for 
Russia`s delivery of nuclear fuel for the power plant to Iran at the 
end of 2005. 
He stressed that one reason for delay in the power plant`s 
operation was the insistence which Iran was making on the nuclear 
protection and security requirement, including for environmental 
safety. 
He said the environmental standards of the facility had been 
confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 
So far, Iran has spent more than one billion dollars on the 
project and it is projected that a further three to four billion 
dollars has to be spent on bringing the power plant on stream, Sabouri
said. 
"We will receive all the equipment by the end of this year (in 
March 2005) and the installation work will be carried out in the 
second half of this year and next year," he added. 
Once operational, the power plant is projected to generate 1,000 
megawatts of electricity, 6,000 megawatts less than the target which 
Iran has set to produce by 2021 in nuclear power plants. 
This will require conclusion of new contracts and Sabouri said 
technical and economic studies on building a new plant by Russia had 
been concluded, pending discussions by the two countries` officials in
their future agenda. 
The official again welcomed European companies` participation in 
the project, saying Iran had received initial readiness of at least 
two European firms to take part. He refused to name them. 
Asked if the Americans were also welcome, he said, "I have no 
clear answer in this regard since this subject goes beyond the 
technical and engineering scope." 
SECURITY CONCERNS 
Commenting on a likely Israeli attack on the plant, Sabouri said, 
"Those responsible to guarantee the power plant`s security have 
fulfilled their task and officials at different rank and file have 
responded (to these threats)." 
"However, the Israeli threats are intended for propaganda and will
never become practical," he added. 
Israel has raised the ante in recent weeks, launching the Arrow 
missile-defense system that reportedly destroyed an incoming ballistic
missile in a test off the California coast in July 2004. 
The regime has cited the missile as the mainstay of its defense 
program against a probable Iranian missile attack. 
The launch was followed by Iran`s successful testing of an 
upgraded version of its Shahab-3 medium-range missile earlier this 
month, with military officials saying that the entire territory of 
Israel, including its nuclear facilities, were within its range. 
Iran, having been wary of Israeli weapons development, has 
stressed that the missile is defensive, while Iranian military 
commanders have warned of grave consequences if the Zionist state 
attacks the country. 
The tensions have been heightened by the US campaign to organize 
international pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program, which 
Tehran says is strictly peaceful. 
ALREADY DELAYED 
Bushehr has seen its start date pushed back steadily in recent 
years from an earlier target of 2003. Russian officials had recently 
said it would start up in 2005. 
Construction of Bushehr power plant has already cost Iran billions
of dollars. The German firm Siemens and its subsidiary Kraftwerke 
Union (KWU) began work on the plant in 1974, but stopped following the
Islamic Revolution in 1979. 
At that time, Unit-One was 90 percent complete, with 60 percent of
the equipment installed, and Unit-Two was 50 percent complete. 
During the 1980 to 1988 imposed war with Iraq, the Bushehr 
reactors were repeatedly targeted by Iraq, which bombed the plant at 
least six times. 
Starting in the mid-1980s, Iran approached several nuclear 
suppliers about the possibility of completing the Bushehr-1 reactor. 
A consortium of West German, Spanish and Argentine companies bid to 
complete it in the late 1980s, but the deal was never completed owing 
to US pressure. 
In a similar deal, Iran signed a protocol in February 1990 with 
Spanish companies to complete the plant and supply the reactor`s fuel,
but they later canceled the deal citing US political pressure. 
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