Iran’s long-delayed first nuclear power plant has been tested successfully, a senior Iranian nuclear official announced on Monday.
“A 250 bar (atmospheric) pressure test has been successfully carried out at the Bushehr nuclear plant,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Mohammad Ali Salehi said at a press conference with visiting Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko in Tehran.
In February, tests were carried out at the power plant using “dummy” fuel rods loaded with lead in place of enriched uranium to simulate nuclear fuel.
But the Russian energy minister refused to say when the nuclear power plant would become operational.
“There is no need to make another (start date) promise,” IRNA quoted Shmatko as saying.
“We have been working on this power plant jointly with a sense of responsibility, and the plant will be fully operational in a short time,” he added.
The comments come after some reports suggested that the Russians would again postpone the start-up of the Bushehr power plant.
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.