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Bushehr plant to come online Aug 21

Iran’s long-delayed first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr will come online next week, a spokesman for the Russian atomic agency says.

“The fuel will be charged in the reactor on August 21. From this moment, Bushehr will be considered a nuclear installation,” AFP reported Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov as saying on Friday.

“This can be considered as the physical launch,” he went on to say.

Iranian officials say they have already completed the principal tests for the plant in preparations for the inauguration expected earlier to take place no later than September.

Western corporations began the construction of the Bushehr facility in the 1970s. However, following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Western companies reneged on their commitments and pulled out of the project due to political pressure from Washington.

Iran then turned to Russia to complete the project. In 1992, Tehran and Moscow signed a deal to complete the construction of the nuclear power plant.

The Bushehr plant was originally scheduled to be completed in 1999, but its start-up has been repeatedly delayed.

Moscow said earlier this year that the plant would come online before the Iranian New Year, which occurs on March 21, 2010.

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