Iran took another step towards joining the nuclear power club by announcing that the Bushehr nuclear power plant had finally joined the electrical grid, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency. Citing a statement from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Fars reported that the power plant joined the grid on Saturday, but that testing to ensure the plant works properly with the grid was still continuing. A ceremony marking the power plant’s operational start and power generation is set for September 12. The plant is still well below its maximum electrical output, however.
The Bushehr nuclear power plant has been built in cooperation with Russia and has safeguards in place that are intended to keep the power plant’s nuclear energy production in the civilian realm. Despite those safeguards, the power plant has led to concerns from some in the past, most notably former US envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton.
The operational launch of the power plant brings Iran closer to the end of what has been a lengthy process of building the plant and bringing it online. In addition to other delays, it had suffered technical problems and was affected by the Stuxnet malware cyber attack.
The plant still has a ways to go before it reaches its maximum electricity production. According to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, citing Russian nuclear company Atomstroyexport, the plant was launched at less than 10% of its full 1000 MW electrical production capacity.
The Bushehr nuclear power plant, while part of the Iranian nuclear program, has been presented in the past by the US as a means for Iran to acquire civilian nuclear power without needing to produce it’s own nuclear fuel. It is the nuclear fuel enrichment program—not the Bushehr power plant—that has garnered the most serious international concern and accusations that Iran seeks to eventually develop nuclear weapons.
(By Staff, www.themideastupdate.com, September 5, 2011)