Two more weeks to fully load fuel in Iran's nuclear plant

31st August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Iran will still need two more weeks to fully load the fuel in its Russian-built first nuclear power plant, a process which began 10 days ago, atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi has said.

On August 21 Iran began loading the fuel roads, also supplied by Russia, into the nuclear power plant located in the southern port city of Bushehr.

The entire loading of the 163 fuel rods was to be complete by September 5, but late on Monday state news agency IRNA quoted Salehi as saying that 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," Salehi said.

Salehi blamed the delay on Bushehr's "severe hot weather" and said that the rods were being moved during night time.

The Bushehr plant's actual commissioning is expected in October or November when the electricity it generates is connected to the national grid.

After three-and-a-half decades of delay, engineers began transferring the atomic fuel into the Bushehr plant from August 21.

Russian officials have said the loading of the fuel marked the physical launch of the power plant, the construction of which initially began in the 1970s under the rule of the late shah.

Despite being OPEC's second-largest crude oil exporter and having the world's second-largest gas reserves, Iran insists it needs nuclear power for a rapidly growing population and for when its fossil fuels eventually run out.

© 2010 AFP

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