Iran reports a major setback at Bushehr nuclear power plant

The New York Times reports:

Iran told atomic inspectors this week that it had run into a serious problem at a newly completed nuclear reactor that was supposed to start feeding electricity into the national grid this month, raising questions about whether the trouble was sabotage, a startup problem, or possibly the beginning of the project’s end.

In a report on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran told inspectors on Wednesday that it was planning to unload nuclear fuel from its Bushehr reactor — the sign of a major upset. For years, Tehran has hailed the reactor as a showcase of its peaceful nuclear intentions and its imminent startup as a sign of quickening progress.

But nuclear experts said the giant reactor, Iran’s first nuclear power plant, now threatens to become a major embarrassment, as engineers remove 163 fuel rods from its core.

Iran gave no reason for the unexpected fuel unloading, but it has previously admitted that the Stuxnet computer worm infected the Bushehr reactor. On Friday, computer experts debated whether Stuxnet was responsible for the surprising development.

Russia, which provided the fuel to Iran, said earlier this month that the worm’s infection of the reactor should be investigated, arguing that it might trigger a nuclear disaster. Other experts said those fears were overblown, but noted that the full workings of the Stuxnet worm remained unclear.

In interviews Friday, nuclear experts said the trouble behind the fuel unloading could range from minor safety issues and operational ineptitude to serious problems that would bring the reactor’s brief operational life to a premature end.

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2 thoughts on “Iran reports a major setback at Bushehr nuclear power plant

  1. Christopher Hoare

    Iran should call in the international nuclear sleuths to pinpoint the causes of the problem. It may take a few years of information gathering and political wrangling, but there’s a very rich court case to settle, and some governments are on the hook. Russia, particularly, should be very interested in seeing its design exonerated.

  2. Norman

    Playing with Nuclear power plants is a dangerous game. The world doesn’t need another Chernobyl on its hands, especially in the M.E. If that Virus, Stuxnet is the reason, then there should be an investigation. Who ever let such lose, put a great many people in danger. We all know what happened @ Chernobyl, and if that’s what caused this episode, then it’s criminal. This B.S. has crossed the rubicon, needs to be stopped. Consider the wind flow, how many people will be effected. This is madness on who ever thought this up.

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