Russia tests Iran nuclear power reactor: official
Russia has successfully completed a vital pre-launch test at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, the country's nuclear export agency said on Tuesday.
The Russian statement confirms media reports in Iran saying that the plant had been reloaded with nuclear fuel and was being prepared for a start-up scheduled for July.
Atomstroyexport nuclear export agency said that on Sunday it had launched "a self-supporting chain reaction" in the "active zone" of the plant's first reactor.
The construction of the Islamic republic's first nuclear power plant has been strongly opposed by Israel amid fears that it forms a part of Iran's suspected nuclear weapons development programme.
Iran dismisses the charges and Russia's involvement has received the informal blessing of the United States.
The Russian nuclear export agency said no power was being produced at the plant at the moment but that Sunday's test represented one of the final stages before a formal start.
The test brought "the nuclear steam-generating plant to the minimal controlled power level," the Russian agency said.
The plant's connection to Iran's electricity grid had been initially scheduled for late 2010 but has since been repeatedly postponed due to technical faults.
Russian nuclear fuel rods had to be removed from Bushehr in February because of internal wear-and-tear that Russia blamed on the Iranian engineers' insistence on working with outdated parts.
The plant's construction had initially started in the 1970s with the help of Germany's Siemens company.
© 2011 AFP