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Iran inserts fuel into its first nuclear plant, causing concern

[ 2010-10-27 13:01]     字号 [] [] []  
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Iran began loading fuel into the core of its first atomic power plant on Tuesday, moving closer to the startup of a facility that leaders have touted as defying of international efforts to curtail the country's nuclear ambitions.

The Russian-built nuclear power plant in Bushehr has international approval and is supervised by the UN's nuclear agency. However, the UN Security Council has slapped four rounds of sanctions against Iran over a separate track of its nuclear program - its efforts to refine uranium, which could eventually be used to create material for a weapon.

"Today, we witnessed an important development in the startup process. After fuel is injected into the heart of the reactor, the reactor door is closed. Then, it will take one or two months to reach a 40 or 50 percent nominal power," Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi told a news conference broadcast on state TV. "We hope the reactor will produce electricity by mid February."

When the 1,000 megawatt plant originally received the fuel in August, Salehi predicted it would produce electricity by November, but a leak in a storage pool delayed the process for months - the latest setback for a reactor first commissioned in the 1970s.

The United States recently withdrew its long-standing opposition to the plant after Russia satisfied concerns over how it would be fueled and the fate of the spent fuel rods.

Under a deal signed in 2005, Russia will provide nuclear fuel to Iran, then take back the spent fuel, a step meant as a safeguard to ensure it cannot be diverted into a weapons program. Iran has also agreed to allow the UN's nuclear agency to monitor Bushehr and the fuel deliveries.

Worries remain, however, over Iran's program to enrich uranium since the process can also be used to create weapons capability.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Iran inserts fuel into its first nuclear plant, causing concern

Iran inserts fuel into its first nuclear plant, causing concern

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.