The long-delayed preliminary phase of operations for Irans first nuclear power plant will begin on Wednesday,the state atomic energy agency said on Sunday. A nuclear official in Russia,which is helping build the plant,however,said no major milestone is expected on Wednesday.
The pilot stage operation of the power plant will start on Wednesday, Iranian atomic agency spokesman Mohsen Delaviz told the state news agency. He added that the preliminary phase will take place during a visit by Sergei Kiriyenko,the head of Russias state nuclear agency.
The 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor,built in the port of Bushehr with the help of Russia under a $1 billion contract,was previously scheduled to become operational in 2008.
Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov,however,said no major milestone in the preparations for Bushehrs start-up is expected during Kiriyenkos visit. He said that Rosatom expects it to be a just a working visit and that as before,the reactors physical start-up is expected by the end of the year.
The plant dates backs to 1974,when Iran signed a pact to build the reactor with German firm Siemens,which withdrew from the project after the 1979 Islamic revolution. In 1992,Iran signed a pact with Russia to complete the project and work began on it in 1995.
The US has opposed the deal,citing concerns that it could help Tehran develop nuclear weapons,but it softened its position after Iran agreed to return spent the nuclear fuel from the reactor to Russia.