Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor is switched on

August 21, 2010 - 0:0

BUSHEHR – The Bushehr nuclear power plant was launched on Saturday as engineers loaded the first of 163 fuel roads into the reactor under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The startup of the plant marked a milestone in Iran’s history as the country joined 29 nations that currently generate nuclear power.

The loading began as Ali Akbar Salehi, director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and Sergei Kiriyenko, chief of Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency, were present.

The plant will produce 1000 megawatts of electricity once the rods are in the reactor and all the required fuels are loaded into the core of the reactor.

The start of the reactor near the Persian Gulf coast makes Iran the first country in the Middle East with a nuclear-energy facility. Iran plans to build enough plants to generate 20,000 megawatts within 20 years.

“Bushehr is a unique project globally,” Kiriyenko added. “It is important that Russia has shown that it stands by its obligations.”

Operating the Bushehr reactor may save Iran 11 million barrels of crude or 1.8 billion cubic meters of gas per year, the London-based World Nuclear Association said in a report.

The plant will also put Iran at least a decade ahead of more prosperous Middle Eastern neighbors such as the United Arab Emirates, which plans to build four nuclear plants by 2020.

""Resistance of the Iranian nation along with their independence-seeking spirit as well as their strong support for their officials have led to the completion of the Bushehr power plant project,"" Salehi told reporters.