Bushehr Nuclear Plant

The head of the Bushehr Nuclear Plant said fuel injection into the head of the reactor has begun once again, after safety concerns stopped a similar attempt last November.

IRNA reports that Hossein Derakhshandeh told visiting representatives of the Economic Cooperation Organization that the fueling process was restarted following a thorough investigation into potential threats and the effectiveness of all safeguards.

Derakhshandeh said it was a problem found in the plant’s pumps that caused the delay last November. He added: “To ensure that the fuel has not been damaged, the fuel was removed and fully cleansed and inspected and then reintroduced into the reactor.”

Derakhshandeh emphasized that security considerations have utmost priority as the Bushehr Plant goes into operation.

“The Bushehr Atomic Plant has been built in accordance with the latest standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as Iranian and Russian nuclear standards, and if the IAEA announces any new regulations, we will readily consider them in the continued construction of Bushehr Atomic Plant.”

The plant first began fueling last November, but a month later the fuel was removed due to safety problem detected in the nuclear fuel rods. On April 8, Atomstroyexpert, Russian contractors that built the Bushehr Plant announced that refueling was underway.

The head of the plant indicated that in view of recent problems at Japan’s Fukushima Plant, the IAEA has announced new requirements for countries with nuclear plants including the Islamic Republic. “The requirement will certainly be considered,” he said.

A group of intellectuals, artists, writers along with various activists issued a statement against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear policies in view of the Fukushima disaster. The signatories maintain that the Bushehr Nuclear Plant’s location makes it prone to earthquakes.

“The recent earthquake and Tsunami in Japan proves that the optimistic calculations which are the basis of regional selection for constructing atomic power plants is unreliable,” they write.

The German company Siemens began construction of the Bushehr Nuclear Plant before the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which halted the project. In 1997 the Islamic Republic entered an agreement with the Russian company Atomstroyexport to finish the construction.

After many delays, the plant was finally finished in summer of 2010, but the date for its actual start-up and connection to the power grid has not yet been announced.

Many analysts have suggested that the Stuxnet, a U.S.-Israeli constructed computer virus, has infected Iran’s industrial computer systems and caused the delay.

Iranian officials have denied that Stuxnet has had any effect on the plant.