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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Trial run of Bushehr nuclear power plant set for 2009 - Rosatom

RIA Novosti

05/02/2009 17:30 MOSCOW, February 5 (RIA Novosti) - A trial run of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran is scheduled for this year, the head of Russia's state nuclear power corporation Rosatom said on Thursday.

"Yes. We are moving according to schedule," Sergei Kiriyenko said, answering a question as to whether a trial run was possible before the end of this year.

However, he added that unforeseen obstacles were possible in so much as the corporation was working to integrate "old equipment."

"We are integrating old German equipment, delivered 25 years ago, into the project," he said.

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

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 has cited financial problems for the delay, with Iran accusing it of caution amid suspicions by Western powers that Tehran could be seeking nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic insists it needs its nuclear program to provide civilian energy.

Kiriyenko also said that Rosatom's main priority in the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was the issue of safety.

"The absolute priority for us is security. A Russian delegation recently visited the construction site and I am planning to be there in late February," he said.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said earlier the Bushehr plant was 94.8% complete. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said it was due to be put into operation in the first half of 2009.

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