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Iran seeks nuclear fuel self-sufficiency

28 August 2010 18:17

An Iranian political analyst says the inauguration of the country’s first nuclear power plant has been a step in the direction of becoming self-sufficient in the field of nuclear energy.

“Tehran has been resolutely pursuing the goal of developing domestic nuclear fuel capability to become self-sufficient in this regard,” said Hassan Beheshti Pour.

“Iranian officials argue that the country should be independent in providing nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants under the watchful eyes of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” he added.

On August 21, Tehran officially started loading fuel into the Bushehr plant in southern Iran, 35 years after its construction began.

The plant is set to produce 500 megawatts of electricity in the initial stage, and its production capacity will be increased to 1,000 megawatts in the near future.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi has announced that nuclear power generation will start in December. Therefore, it will take four months before nuclear fuel is fully delivered into the core reactor to produce enough power for electricity generation.

The analyst believes that the power plant is not just a local facility in Bushehr but a prelude to construction of at least seven more nuclear power plants nationwide.

He said generation of 1,000 MW of nuclear power by Bushehr plant will not compensate for Iran’s electricity shortage and the country plans to build more nuclear plants in coming years, which is “a good starting point” for the development of nuclear technology in Iran.

He pointed to relations between Tehran and Moscow which had become relatively tense over frequent postponement of the launch of the Bushehr power plant and said the inauguration will help improve ties between the two sides.

However, he stressed that it would have no bearing on the continuation of enrichment process or forthcoming nuclear negotiations.

“In fact, Iran decided to produce nuclear fuel on its soil after the Russians frequently changed the schedule for launching Bushehr power plant, Western states failed to live up to their promises for supplying nuclear fuel to the Tehran research reactor and France abrogated all previously signed agreements for nuclear cooperation with Iran.”

The fact that Iran is not running any nuclear power plant right now is no reason to prevent the country from achieving uranium enrichment technology, he said.

The analyst deemed as “excuse” the US allegations that Iran should stop enrichment activities after launching Bushehr power plant.

“The power plant had been already excluded from the UN sanctions in order to encourage Russia vote for the Security Council resolution and also to show the world that Washington was not against Iran’s access to nuclear energy, but was only opposed to enrichment inside Iran,” he said.

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