Technicians began the process of moving uranium fuel from a storage area to the reactor at Iran's first nuclear power plant on Saturday, the spokesman for Russia's state-run nuclear corporation said.
"The beginning of the first stage of the physical start-up has taken place," Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said at the Russian-built plant near Bushehr in southern Iran.
State television showed live pictures of Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi and his Russian counterpart looking on at what appeared to be a fuel rod suspended from the ceiling.
"Despite all the pressures, sanctions and hardships imposed by Western nations, we are now witnessing the start-up of the largest symbol of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities," Salehi told a news conference afterwards.
Iranian officials said it would take two to three months before the plant starts producing electricity and would generate 1,000 megawatts once it reaches full power.
Russia designed, built and will supply fuel for Bushehr, taking back spent rods which could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium in order to ease nuclear proliferation concerns.
Saturday's ceremony comes after decades of delays building the plant, work on which was initially started by German company Siemens in the 1970s, before Iran's Islamic Revolution.
Iran says it its nuclear programme aim to generate civlian electricity and Islamic Republic has a sovereign right to nuclear technology and uranium enrichment.
But West claims that it can make nuclear bomb. U.N. imposed sactions on Iran to stop its uranium enrichment.
"The construction of the nuclear plant at Bushehr is a clear example showing that any country, if it abides by existing international legislation and provides effective, open interaction with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), should have the opportunity to access peaceful use of the atom," Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, told the news conference.
Salehi dismissed U.S. suggestions that Russia's guarantee to supply nuclear fuel meant Iran no longer needed to enrich its own uranium, but said Iran was in "no hurry" to build 10 new enrichment plants, something he had previously said would start by next March.
"This is not at all in contradiction to our agreement with the Russians," he said of Iran's determination to keep enriching uranium. "We intend only to show to the international community that we have the capability to supply our own fuel in case anything comes up that is unexpected."
ReutersLast Mod: 22 Ağustos 2010, 14:06