Iran's Nuclear Plant Linked to National Grid

Iran's first nuclear power plant has been hooked up to the national grid supplying 60 megawatts of its 1,000 megawatt capacity, the Atomic Energy Organization announced on Sunday.

"Last night at 11:29 pm (1859 GMT), the Bushehr power plant was connected with 60 megawatts to the national grid," the organization’s spokesman Hamid Khadem Qaemi, told Arabic-language television channel Al-Alam.

The connection of the Russian-built plant in southern Iran to the national grid was originally scheduled for the end of 2010 but was delayed several times by technical problems.

The plant was started up in November 2010 but repeated technical problems delayed its operation, leading to the removal of its fuel rods in March.

"The capacity will gradually increase and it (is going through its) testing phase and on Shahrviar 21 (September 12) in a ceremony the power plant will reach its 40 percent capacity," Khadem Qaemi said.

Iran's atomic organization chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani told the channel in mid-August that, "the test to reach 40 percent of the plant's capacity has been done successfully... God willing, we will be able to commission the plant by the end of Ramadan with an initial production" of electricity.

He foresees the plant reaching its "full capacity of 1,000 megawatts" in late November or early December.

"We will then organize an official ceremony, for which it has been suggested that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev come to Iran," he said then.

Russia has blamed the delays on Iran, saying its engineers have been to work with outdated parts. The latest delay in March was pinned on wear and tear at the plant.

Construction started in the 1970s with the help of German company Siemens, which quit the project after the 1979 Islamic revolution over concerns about nuclear proliferation.

In 1994, Russia agreed to complete the plant and provide fuel for it, with the supply deal committing Iran to returning the spent fuel to allay Western concerns about its nuclear ambitions.

Western governments suspect Iran is seeking an atomic weapons capability under the guise of its civilian space and nuclear programs, a charge Iran vehemently denies.

Source: Agence France Presse

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