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Bushehr NPP could be launched later in 2008- Iran's vice president

RIA Novosti

08/08/2008 13:27 TEHRAN, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - The Bushehr nuclear power plant currently being built by Russia in southern Iran may be launched later in 2008, an Iranian vice president said on Friday.

Russia is building the $1 billion Bushehr facility, Iran's first nuclear power plant, in the south of the country in accordance with a 1995 contract. The project is also subject to UN supervision as Iran is under international scrutiny over its compliance with its nuclear non-proliferation commitments.

"I think preparatory operations to launch the power plant will be started at Bushehr later this year," the IRNA news agency quoted Gholamreza Aqazadeh, who also heads the country's atomic energy organization, as saying.

Russia's nuclear power chief Sergei Kiriyenko said in early June that preparations for the launch of the Bushehr project, including nuclear fuel operations, would start in the fall. He said with confidence that the safety of nuclear fuel storage was not in doubt.

The construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was started in 1975 by German companies. The German firms stopped work however due to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the capture of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and a U.S. embargo on high technology supplies to Iran.

Russia signed a contract with Iran to finish work on the plant in February 1998. The Bushehr project was originally scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2006, but the date has been postponed several times.

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

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