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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran to start final test run of Bushehr nuclear power plant

RIA Novosti

15:00 05/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - The final test run of Iran's first nuclear power plant will begin within the next several days, Iran's vice president said on Monday.

Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the country's Atomic Energy Organization, earlier said the plant was 96% complete, almost all of the equipment had been installed, and that after testing the plant would go into full operation.

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

Russia signed a contract with Iran to complete the plant in February 1998, originally due for completion at the end of 2006. The date was postponed several times over financial problems and Iranian claims that Russia was reluctant to finish the facility due to UN sanctions and suspicions of a covert nuclear weapons program.

Russia's Atomstroiexport in January completed deliveries of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr plant. As a rule, nuclear fuel is delivered to a nuclear power plant six months before it goes into operation.

Iran has been under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, used in both electricity generation and weapons production. Tehran has repeatedly rejected the demand, insisting it is pursuing a purely civilian program. Several Western powers have called for harsher sanctions against Tehran if it does not agree to halt uranium enrichment.

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