Iran nuclear reactor likely to start in five months

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Dubai, Sep 9 (UNI) A senior Russian nuclear official has announced that within five months the start-up of Iran's first reactor will be ''irreversible''.

''Between December 2008 and February 2009, various technical measures will be carried out... that will make the physical start-up process of the first Bushehr reactor irreversible,'' ITAR-TASS news agency quoted the head of Atomstroiexport Leonid Reznikov as saying.

Meanwhile, company spokeswoman Irina Yesipova noted the launch date would be determined after talks between Russian and Iranian nuclear officials this month.

The US and its allies, which accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weaponry, have criticised Russia for building the power plant. Russia, nonetheless, states that the plant's contract was in line with all international agreements aimed at preventing nuclear weapons proliferation.

Atomstroiexport, which is the company working on the Bushehr nuclear plant, also trains Iran's nuclear specialists and delivers nuclear fuel to the plant's reactor. The company has so far delivered eight fuel shipments to Bushehr.

Based on an 800-million dollar contract signed in 1995, Russia agreed to complete one of two nuclear reactors in Bushehr within four years.

The country has, however, failed to meet its deadline, citing the ''sanctions imposed by Western powers'' as the reason behind the delay in the construction of the power plant.

Electricity shortage has forced Iran to schedule power outages -- of up to two hours a day -- throughout the country, the Iranian Press TV said.

UNI XC SKB DS1400

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