MOSCOW, (Reuters) – Russia will start up the reactor at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant this year, the chief of Russia’s state nuclear corporation told reporters on Thursday.
“2010 is the year of Bushehr,” Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Moscow. “There is absolutely no doubt that it will be built this year. Everything is going according to schedule,” he said. Kiriyenko declined to answer a question on when exactly the plant would be started up.
Russia agreed in 1995 to build the 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant at Bushehr on the Gulf coast in south-western Iran, but delays have haunted the $1 billion project and diplomats say Moscow has used it as a lever in relations with Tehran.
The atomic power station was once a source of disagreement between Russia and the West, which suspected the Islamic Republic could try to use it to build nuclear weapons. But in recent years, the United States has dropped its opposition and says the plant removes any need for Iran to have its own enrichment programme.
Russia says the plant is purely civilian and cannot be used for any weapons programme as it will come under International Atomic Energy Agency supervision. Iran will have to return all spent fuel rods to Russia.