Tehran, Feb 23: Iran's first nuclear power plant is all set to undergo a critical series of tests beginning Wednesday, Feb 25 before it starts its full-scale operation later this year, Iranian state radio has aired.
Bushehr plant is a symbolic facet of Iran's controversial nuclear program. The United States, Israel and some European nations had charged Iran for trying to produce nuclear weapons. However, Iranian leaders have maintained that the country's nuclear ambitions are peaceful, the Washington Post reports.
Apart from supplying enriched uranium for the plant's operation, Russian state company Atomstroiexport is also building the 1,000-megawatt reactor.
Iranian and Russian officials will inspect the Bushehr plant before the testing known as the "virtual fuel-injection test," begins.
"God willing, this will be an important step towards the full launch of the Bushehr nuclear power plant," Mohsen Delaviz, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was quoted by the state radio, as saying.
A batch of low-enriched uranium, supplied by Russia and needed to activate the reactor, will not be used during the testing.
Western countries have continuously criticized Russia for supporting Iranian nuclear program. But Russia has rejected all the international suspicion by saying that the plant is purely civilian and cannot be used for any weapons program as the spent uranium has to be returned.
the United Nations Security Council to sanction Iran over its nuclear program.
Iran had stockpiled 2,227 pounds of low-enriched, or reactor-grade, nuclear fuel by late January, according to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Experts say that amount is enough to make a single bomb if the fuel were enriched to a higher level
In a statement released on Sunday the IAEA wrote off such speculation. "Iran is cooperating well with UN nuclear inspectors to help ensure it does not again understate the amount of uranium it has enriched," the agency stated.
Meanwhile, the experts say that to weaponize its program, Iran would have to take steps such as withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, kicking out international inspectors, breaking UN seals on batches of uranium and shutting down dozens of UN cameras that monitor nuclear sites across the country.