TEHRAN, November 27 (Itar-Tass) -- The reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant has begun operating, Vice-President and head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters on Saturday.
The reactor was completely loaded with fuel, and a few days ago it was sealed up. The water in the reactor "heart" is being gradually warmed. Then, final tests will be conducted, he said.
Salehi expressed the hope power from the Bushehr plant would come into the country's energy system in one-two months. It will be a great holiday for the country, he noted. His words are cited by Iranian news agencies and television.
The construction of the first Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr was started by the German company Siemens's branch Kraftwerk Union. However, the work was halted, and the contract was abrogated after the Islamic revolution in Iran in February 1979 and the following beginning of the Iranian-Iraqi armed conflict.
A Russian-Iranian contract was signed on January 8, 1995 to complete the construction of the first power unit in Bushehr, and an addendum to the contract was signed in 1998 for the Russian party to complete the construction of the facilities to be ready to operate.
On December 16, 2007, the first batch of Russian nuclear fuel was delivered to the special storage depot in the power plant territory. The containers were sealed by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The supply of 82 tonnes of 1.6-3.6-percent-enriched nuclear fuel was carried out in eight stages. The last batch was delivered on January 28, 2008.
Preparations for the physical start-up of the power plant began in August this year. The reactor is expected to begin operating at full capacity in the first half of next year.