Iran reactor disaster warning from whistleblower

How does a disreputable newspaper identify its reputable sources? As soon as I saw the headline, I assumed this article must come from The Times. Maybe it’s rock solid reporting — who knows?

Iran’s first nuclear power station is unsafe and will probably cause a “tragic disaster” according to a document apparently written by an Iranian whistleblower.

The Bushehr reactor is likely to cause the next nuclear catastrophe after Chernobyl and Fukushima, says the document, passed to The Times by a reputable source and attributed to a former member of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran’s legal department.

It claims Bushehr, which began operating last month after 35 years of intermittent construction, was built by “second-class engineers” who bolted together Russian and German technology from different eras; that it sits in one of the world’s most seismically active areas but could not withstand a major earthquake; and that it has “no serious training program” or a contingency plan for accidents.

The document’s authenticity cannot be confirmed, but nuclear experts see no reason to doubt it. It also echoes fears in the nuclear industry about the safety of a secretive project to which few outsiders have had access. Iran is the only country with a nuclear plant that has not joined the Convention on Nuclear Safety, which obliges signatories to observe international safety standards.

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