Iran starts loading fuel in first nuclear power plant

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Iran said on Saturday it has started loading fuel into its Russian-built first nuclear power plant, in the face of stiff opposition from world powers over its controversial atomic programme.

After decades of delay, engineers finally began loading the Russia-supplied fuel into the plant in the southern port of Bushehr, in the presence of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, a statement by Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation said.

"The operation of transferring nuclear fuel to the reactor was carried out on 30th of Mordad (August 21) in presence of Ali Akbar Salehi, vice president and head of Iran's atomic body, and Sergei Kiriyenko," the head of Russian atomic body, Rosatom, the statement said.

It said the 163 rods of fuel will be "transferred into the core of the reactor after necessary inspections."

Last week Salehi said the transfer of the fuel transfer would be complete by September 5.

On Friday, Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Ali Shirzadian said the one-billion-dollar plant's actual commissioning would come in October or November when the electricity it generates connects to the national grid.

© 2010 AFP

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