Iran has started testing its newly constructed nuclear power plant with assistance from Russian technicians. The nuclear plant is capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity.
The tests began 10 days ago. Nuclear Chief VP Gholam Reza Aghazadeh said the test could take between four to seven months. He did not say how long the reactor could start after the completion of the tests.
The United States has been critical of Iran’s nuclear reactor project because of suspicion that it will lead Iran to build nuclear warheads from its waste products. The US has in fact tried to discourage Russia from helping Iran in building the reactor.
The United Nations has demanded that Iran suspends its nuclear enrichment program because of fears that it could be used to produce materials for warhead. But Iran was quick to deny it saying that the plant was built solely for the purpose of generating electricity.
Yahoo news: ‘The plant, which will run on enriched uranium imported from Russia, has worried the west because the spent fuel could be turned into plutonium, a potential material for nuclear warheads’.
US concerns over the reactor softened after Iran agreed to return spent fuel to Russia to ensure Tehran does not reprocess it to plutonium. Washington largely dropped its opposition to the project and argued instead that the Russia fuel deal shows that Iran does not need its own domestic uranium enrichment program. Russia’s fuel deliveries to Iran began in 2007, the report added.
In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. ‘Iranians are showing again that they are making progress in their nuclear race’. ‘This should be understood as very bad news for the whole of the international community. He called for ‘immediate and very determined steps in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power’.
The first Iranian nuclear power plant was meant to start up last year. But because of supply and construction glitches, the schedule suffered major delays. Some 700 technical people were sent to Russia for training over the last four years to operate the plant.
It is almost certain that the first Iranian nuclear power plant will operate shortly despite major opposition from other concerned nations including Israel.