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Monday, January 31, 2011     GET REAL

Iran misses deadline for linking Bushehr reactor to electricity grid

NICOSIA — Iran has again delayed plans to generate electricity from nuclear energy.


Officials said the Bushehr nuclear reactor would not be linked to Iran's electricity grid until at least the spring of 2011. They acknowledged delays at the 1,000 megawatt reactor constructed by Russia and believed hampered by the Stuxnet computer worm.

"We hope that on Farvardin 20 [April 9] we will witness the connection of the plant to the national grid," Iranian Atomic Energy Agency Ali Akhbar Salehi said.

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In a statement on Jan. 28, Salehi did not explain the latest delays but said Bushehr has begun operations, Middle East Newsline reported. In November, Salehi said Bushehr would begin electricity generation by January 2011.

"The reactor has started its operation and the next step is to reach critical phase, which will take place by the end of Bahman [Feb. 20]," Salehi said. "We have said before that because of some tests, we may face delays but these delays would last around a week or two."

Salehi and other officials acknowledged penetration by Stuxnet. But he said Stuxnet was blocked from entering the reactor's main systems.

"We are pursing work with the Russians while observing all the safety issues," Salehi said.

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