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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran to put Bushehr NPP into operation this September

RIA Novosti

02/03/2009 11:54 TEHRAN, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - Iran expects to put its Bushehr nuclear power plant into operation this September, the country's deputy foreign minister said.

Russia's state nuclear power corporation Rosatom Sergei Kiriyenko announced earlier on Wednesday that Russia had completed the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushehr. A series of pre-launch tests at the facility began later in the day.

"The test launch of the Bushehr NPP was an important step and we expect to launch the NPP in the month of Shahrivar [from August 23 to September 22, according to Iran's solar calendar]," Hossein Sheikh al Islam told Iran's state television.

The plant in southern Iran, which Russia undertook to finish as part of a 1998 contract, was originally scheduled to go on line at the end of 2006, but the date has been pushed back several times.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said previously the Bushehr plant would go on stream in the first half of 2009.

In December 2007-January 2008, Russia supplied nuclear fuel for the plant under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog. Iran has agreed to return spent nuclear fuel to Russia.

The construction of the Bushehr plant was started in 1975 by German companies. However, work stopped after a U.S. embargo on hi-tech supplies to Iran was imposed following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by radical students.

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