28 February 2011
Iran’s nuclear program has suffered a setback after Tehran said over the weekend that nuclear fuel had to be removed fuel from the Russian-built nuclear reactor in Bushehr for safety reasons. The decision came just months before the facility, whose construction has been a political and logistical gauntlet since the 1975, was scheduled to come online and provide power. "Based on the recommendation of Russia, which is in charge of completing the Bushehr atomic power plant, the fuel inside the reactor core will be taken out for a while to conduct some experiments and technical work," Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told Iran’s state ISNA news agency. "After the experiments, it will again be installed in the core of the reactor." He did not specify when the experiments would be completed.
Iran started loading the fuel into the reactor in October, two months after the "physical launch" of the plant by Moscow. Saturday’s decision to remove the fuel was the latest setback in the three-decade history of the reactor, which was begun in 1975, before the Islamic Revolution, by Germany’s Siemens. The latter abandoned the project in 1979, and Russia’s Rosatom took over in 1995, agreeing to supply fuel and provide construction. Some 2,000 Russian nuclear technicians have been on site since the reactor build resumed.
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