By George Whitten, Jerusalem Bureau Chief
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (Worthy News)-- The Iranian nuclear power plant located in Bushehr will be inaugurated in late September, despite international concerns the project is part of a wider nuclear program, according to Russian Foreign Ministry officials, Worthy News learned Tuesday, August 10.
Currently the 1,000-mega watt light-water reactor is undergoing tests and the plant would be opened in one and a half months, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Russian News Agencies on Monday.
So far, the tests of the reactor have involved "virtual fuel", however when the plant officially opens in September, "real fuel" would begin reaching the plant, according to Russian officials.
Iran has already received 87 tons of low-enriched uranium from Russia for the plant, sufficient to run it for about three years.
Iran also activated a second set of 164 centrifuges linked in a cascade, or a string of machines, to enrich uranium more efficiently, the International Atomic Agency said yesterday.
The move upgrades the efficiency of production by recycling the waste now being left by the first cascade to squeeze out more enriched uranium, officials stated.
Israel and the West, which suspects Iran of seeking to produce its own nuclear bomb, have been critical of Russia's involvement in Bushehr. Russia says the plant is purely civilian and cannot be used for any weapons program.
Russia was commissioned by Iran to build the plant in Bushehr under a $1 billion contract originally scheduled to become fully operational in March 2007. However, the plant has long faced delays.
The U.S. and Israel were reportedly responsible for the postponements, with reports that agents were involved in a covert plan of equipment sabotage, specialized computers sold to Iran that contain viruses, the assassination of key nuclear personnel, as well as sanctions levied against the Iranian government.
Despite the tactic, the Bushehr reactor development continued, and experts warned it could produce a quarter ton of weapons grade plutonium per year. Paul Leventhal of the Nuclear Control Institute said that would be enough for at least 30 atomic bombs a year.