A ceremony has been held to mark the official inauguration of Iran’s first nuclear power plant at Bushehr, after which two memoranda of understanding were signed between Iran and Russia.
German constructor Siemens KWU began work on two pressurized water reactors at the Bushehr site on the Persian Gulf in 1975, but work was abandoned in 1979. At the time, one unit was substantially complete and the second unit was around 50% complete, but the site was damaged by air strikes during the war between Iran and Iraq in 1984-1988.
However, in 1994, Minatom of Russia agreed with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to complete Bushehr unit 1 as a VVER-1000 unit, using mostly the infrastructure already in place. This plan also necessitated major changes, including fabrication of all the main reactor components in Russia under a construction contract with AtomStroyExport.
After years of delay, the Bushehr plant was finally connected to the grid on 4 September, supplying around 60 MWe. Output from the 1000 MWe reactor will now gradually be increased to full capacity.
A ceremony was held yesterday to mark the plant's commissioning, attended by dignitaries from both Iran and Russia. Iranian guests included the country's foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi and energy minister Majid Namdz, as well as Fereydoon Abbasi Davan, head of AEOI. Russian guests included energy minister Sergei Shmatko, the head of state nuclear corporation Rosatom Sergey Kiriyenko and the president of AtomStroyExport Alexander Glukhov.
Speaking during the ceremony, Shmatko told the Iranian people: 'With the launch of the plant, your country begins a new technological era - the era of the peaceful atom. The capacity of the first unit at Bushehr is about 3% of the country's installed electricity generating capacity, and I wish only that you increase this proportion in the future.'
Speaking of the challenge of completing the partly-built German plant using Russian technology, Kiriyenko commented: 'In the course of its implementation, Russian technological equipment has been integrated into the German building construction design - more than 12,000 tonnes of German equipment has been incorporated into the Russian project. Ten countries have supplied equipment for the Iranian plant.' He stressed that no other plant in the world would be under such constant supervision by the IAEA.
Following the inauguration ceremony, Russia and Iran signed two memoranda of understanding. The first is for Rosatom to conduct stress tests on the Bushehr plant, while the second revises the extent of Russia’s part in operation to just 'the early stages.' Previous plans had foreseen a 50-50 Russian-Iranian joint venture operating the plant for at least one year.