Iran has officially taken over the first unit of its civilian Bushehr nuclear power plant from Russia for two years in a ceremony attended by Iranian and Russian experts and officials.
The 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant was temporarily handed over to Iran on Monday after reading a message by Iran President Hassan Rouhani. Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday that during a recent Iran-Russia joint economic commission, the two sides agreed to construct new nuclear power plants. He also expressed hope that the construction of the second unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant would be underway in the near future. On September 13, the AEOI head said that the Bushehr plant’s 14-day test period will come to an end on September 24, adding that the reactor must be functioning at 90 percent capacity and generating at least 900 megawatts of electricity during the two-week period. However, Salehi underlined, if the output drops below this level, the plant will need to go through another trial period. The AEOI head stated that the facility has undergone different test operations over the past two years since fuel injection into its core began, adding that this is the final testing period. The Bushehr nuclear power plant became officially operational and was connected to Iran’s national grid in September 2011, generating electricity at 40 percent capacity. The plant, which is operating under the full supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reached its maximum power generation capacity in August 2012. Iran and Russia have assured the international community that the plant is fully compliant with high-level safety standards and IAEA safeguards. The United States, the Israeli regime, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program. Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.