Iran's Bushehr power plant
Source: Press TV
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has emphasized safety at Bushehr power plant in southern Iran, saying the country's sole nuclear plant has become operational.
“As we have previously announced, Bushehr power plant has reached the criticality stage, [meaning] it has been successfully launched,” IRNA quoted Salehi as telling reporters.
The fission process, or criticality, allows the atoms to split by themselves in a chain reaction without interference from operators.
“This stage lasts for two months. We hope the plant will gain some 40 percent of its power within the next one to two months,” Salehi went on to say.
He added that work has progressed at the site despite a two-month gap over a “technical glitch” in one of the pumps at the plant.
The Iranian minister emphasized that the most modern technologies have been used in the construction of the plant and reiterated that it is amongst one of the safest nuclear power plants in the world.
“We assure the (Iranian) nation that safety has the final say in Bushehr power plant,” Salehi pointed out.
Salehi's remarks came after Olga Tysleva, a spokesperson for the Atomstroyexport company, the Russian contractor of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, said on Friday that activities at the plant are progressing well and are on schedule.
She added that the fuel loading of the reactor at the plant is completed and the reactor is well functioning at the minimum controllable level of power.
Tysleva further pointed out that the reactor has achieved a chain distribution, which is an automatic system, adding that this is one of the significant stages of the physical launch of the reactor.
In October 2010, Iran started injecting fuel into the core of the reactor at Bushehr nuclear power plant in the initial phase of its launch. However, engineers began removing the fuel rods in late February for safety reasons.
The unloading of the fuel delayed the plant's joining the national grid, initially scheduled for the beginning of 2011.