Tehran: Iran will need two more weeks to
complete the process of loading fuel into its Russian-built
first nuclear power plant, atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said.
The process of loading 163 fuel rods, also supplied by
Russia, into the nuclear power plant located in the southern
port city of Bushehr began on August 21 and was to be
completed by September 5.
Thereafter the rods were to be transferred to the
But state news agency IRNA reported late on Monday
that Salehi, in an interview with Al-Alam television, said it
will take another two weeks to shift the rods into the plant.
"From now on, it will take 10 to 15 days for the 163
fuel rods to be moved into the main building of the Bushehr
nuclear power plant and then we have to transfer the fuel rods
into the reactor," Salehi said.
Last week, he had said the transfer of fuel rods into
the reactor would start at the end of the Iranian month of
"Shahrivar (September 22), and at the end of (the month of)
Mehr (October 22), we will close the lid of the reactor."
Iranian officials had earlier said the Bushehr plant`s
commissioning is expected in October or November when the
electricity it generates is connected to the national grid.
Salehi also said that the Islamic republic has
received a "positive" initial response from Russia to its
proposal of making nuclear fuel jointly in both countries.
"So far the Russian response has been positive to the
Iranian proposal," Salehi said of the plan which he revealed
on August 26.
"But any comprehensive and complete response depends
on future negotiations and further study. We hope that the
positive signals from the Russians will lead to the signing of
Iran is under four sets of UN Security Council
sanctions for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment -- the
process which can be used to make nuclear fuel but also the
fissile core of an atom bomb in highly purified forms.
Russia, despite being Iran`s long-time nuclear ally,
also voted for the latest round of UN sanctions against
Tehran, a move which triggered an angry response against
Moscow from top Iranian officials.
Salehi said Iran was testing second and third
generations of centrifuges, the device which rotates at
supersonic speed to enrich uranium.
"The testing phase could take one to three years ...
The testing is on an experimental basis and not on an
industrial production scale," Iran`s atomic chief said.
Iran currently enriches uranium at its facility in the
central city of Natanz in defiance of the UN and world powers.
As of May 24, it had installed 8,528 centrifuges at Natanz,
according to the latest UN atomic watchdog report.