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September 2004 / No. 31


Science & Technology

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Update

Technical and economic studies have been carried out to construct a new unit at the Bushehr Power Plant and talks about this unit are included in the agenda of future discussions of Iranian and Russian officials

Deputy Director for Nuclear Power Plants of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), Assadollah Sabouri says that more than $1 billion have been spent on the construction of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in Southern Iran.

Talking to domestic and foreign reporters, Sabouri said more than $3-4 billion must be spent before 2006 when the project is to come on-stream.

Assadollah Sabouri, Deputy Director for Nuclear Power Plants of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO)

Maintaining that the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant will produce 200 billion kilowatts of electricity, he said: “If we consider the price of each kilowatt of electricity at only four cents, the country would fetch $8 billion, which means $4 billion would go to the state treasury.”

Asked if safety precautions have been observed and if there was the likelihood of recurrence of a Chernobyl-like incident, he said in nuclear engineering, people do not pass personal judgment on whether this project is safe or not. Instead, he noted, there are regulations for designing a project that should be observed.

Sabouri added that safety documents should be produced before construction and also during the various stages of construction. One of the main reasons that the construction of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Project has taken such a long time is Iran’s insistence on observance of the nuclear criteria.

According to Sabouri, the safety report of the Bushehr Power Plant has been probed into and substantiated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The ecological report of the project—which proves that the power plant poses no threat to its staff, people and the environment—has been verified by the IAEA.

Sabouri stated that the Bushehr Power Plant is acceptable at an international level from the technical and safety point of view and it is under no question whatsoever.

In response to a question regarding expansion of Iran’s nuclear projects, he said as Iran’s atomic energy council has approved the nuclear energy share of the country to stand at 7,000 megawatts in the Iranian year 1400 (2021), the first unit of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant would produce 1,000 megawatts. To supply the remaining 6,000 megawatts, new contracts should be signed, he said.

The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant will produce 200 billion kilowatts of electricity, if we consider the price of each kilowatt of electricity at only four cents, the country would fetch $8 billion, which means $4 billion would go to the state treasury.

To this end, he said, technical and economic studies have been carried out to construct a new unit at the Bushehr Power Plant and talks about this unit are included in the agenda of future discussions of Iranian and Russian officials.

Sabouri added that the Iran-Russia agreement on construction of the power plant is not limited to one unit and comprises more than one case.

Turning to the infrastructure of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, he said it has the capacity for the construction of four nuclear units. He added that the deadline for receiving fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power station from Russia is late 2005. He went on to say that there is no indication that the project would not be completed and therefore “we are not concerned about this issue.”

He stated that at present the contract on return and transfer of spent fuel has been finalized and that the two sides were only discussing the costs. Since the return and transfer to Russia of the spent fuel would be carried out about eight to nine years later, it is difficult to get the transfer costs for that time, he said. Sabouri stressed that high-level Iranian officials had decided that the spent fuel should be returned to Russia. An issue that is still in the process of completion, he noted, is the talks on the executive contract for the return of the fuel. “This issue is very complicated.”

Asked if there was any laxity on the part of the Russians regarding implementation of the project, he said the completion of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is very complicated and the case is unique.

Recalling that the project had been started by the Germans, he said it has been unprecedented in the world for a nuclear project to be abandoned and for a new contractor to resume the work. At present, he said, both the Russians and Iranians equally realize how difficult the job is.

Sabouri added that after completion of the project the instances of authorized and unauthorized delay would be determined. On this case, he said, neither the Russians nor the Iranians have ever accused each other.

In regards to the cooperation of other countries in construction of the nuclear power plants in Iran, Sabouri said there are few countries in the world capable of doing this. However, Iran has been informed of the desire of certain European countries for cooperation in this respect.

“Of course we should leave behind the initial stage of correspondence and desire on the part of these countries and should enter an executive framework which would bring about commitments.”

He declined to name the countries willing to cooperate with Iran in the field of construction of power plants but said at least two European countries have voiced readiness in this respect.

On the extent of participation of Iranians in construction of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, he said Iranian companies have carried out all the construction activities including rehabilitation and completion. Moreover, Iranian manufacturers have supplied about 25% of the equipment needed for the project. Among other aspects of participation of Iranians in the construction of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, he said the viewpoints of Iranian university professors have been taken into account and as well as that of nuclear energy experts trained by the Sharif Industrial University and Amir Kabir University.

 

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  Sep.  2004 / No. 31