Russia, Iran discuss further reactors

14 March 2014

Russia and Iran have reportedly reached a preliminary agreement for the construction of two more units at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. The first unit at Bushehr, completed by Russia, is already in full operation.

Bushehr (NIAEP-ASE)_460
Bushehr unit 1 (Image: NIAEP-ASE)

Representatives from the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) and Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom met in Tehran on 12 March to discuss their continued cooperation under an accord signed in 1992.

An AEOI spokesman said that the meeting resulted in the two parties initialling a draft agreement for the construction of two more reactors of at least 1000 MWe each at the existing Bushehr plant. Two desalination plants would also be part of the overall project.

The actual agreement for the two units remains to be signed. Technical and commercial issues relating to the new reactors will also need to be agreed.

Iran's ambassador in Moscow earlier said that the plant, along with other goods, would be bartered for Iran's oil, which is subject to United Nations trade sanctions. The electricity from the Bushehr reactor frees up about 1.6 million tonnes (11 million barrels) of oil or 1800 million cubic metres of gas per year, which can be exported for hard currency. Last year Iran's Energy Minister said that the plant saved some $2 billion per year in oil and gas.

The Bushehr plant

German constructor Siemens KWU began work on two pressurized water reactors at the Bushehr site on the Persian Gulf in 1975, but work was abandoned in 1979. In 1994, Russia agreed with the AEOI to complete the Bushehr unit 1 as a VVER-1000 unit, using mostly the infrastructure already in place. This plan also necessitated major changes, including fabrication of all the main reactor components in Russia under a construction contract with AtomStroyExport.

After years of delay, the Bushehr plant was finally connected to the grid on 4 September 2011, supplying around 60 MWe. Output from the 1000 MWe reactor has since been gradually increased, reaching full capacity in September 2013. Russia is supplying fuel to Bushehr which, once used, will be returned to Russia for reprocessing and storage.

Unlike the controversial parts of Iran's nuclear program, such as uranium enrichment and a heavy-water reactor, the Bushehr plant has been entirely built and will operate under full International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News