By George Whitten, Jersualem Bureau Chief
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (Worthy News)-- Russia's state atomic corporation (Rosatom) announced that it will load fuel into Iran’s first nuclear power plant next week, Worthy News learned on August 13.
Russia says it will undertake a key step next week, when it will begin to load the Iranian light-water nuclear power plant in Bushehr with uranium fuel shipped by Russia.
“The fuel will be charged in the reactor on August 21. From this moment, Bushehr will be considered a nuclear installation,” Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov told AP. “This can be considered as the physical launch.”
Iran’s atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed next week’s launch of the nuclear power plant.
“We are preparing to transfer the fuel inside the plant next week … Then we will need seven to eight days to transfer it to the reactor,” Salehi told reporters.
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.