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Iran: Nuclear power plant to resume work early May

Iran said Saturday that its first nuclear power plant will resume work early May, a day after the facility’s Russian contractor acknowledged reloading the fuel in the plant.

“We hope that the Bushehr power plant reaches critical phase between May 5 and 10,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who previously headed the Islamic republic’s atomic body, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

He said the fuel supplied by Moscow was “removed from the reactor’s core, was washed… and as of yesterday it was reloaded”.

Engineers had began removing the fuel in late February due to an apparent technical fault.

Russia’s Atomstroyexport agency which oversaw the Bushehr plant’s construction said in a statement on Friday that the refuelling operation began after the plant had been re-checked and its various pieces “washed through”.

It was not immediately clear from the statement when the Bushehr plant would be commissioned.

The plant’s connection to the electric grid of Iran was initially scheduled for the end of 2010, but was then postponed to April 9 due to technical problems.

Russia last month blamed the latest delay on internal wear-and-tear at the plant, whose construction had initially started in the 1970s with the help of Germany’s Siemens company.

Russia also blamed Iran for forcing its engineers to work with outdated parts in the plant.