Iran has shut down its 1.0gw Bushehr nuclear power plant for repairs to the turbine generator, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported on 22 February. The plant, which was built by Russian state nuclear firms and started up in September 2011, is expected to be off-line until at least 28 February. It was only recently restarted after a shutdown following the discovery of debris in the reactor housing (MEES, 18 January). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) noted in a report circulated among members on 21 February that Iran informed it of the shutdown during a 16-17 February plant inspection.

The report said that contrary to IAEA and UN Security Council demands, Iran has not suspended work on all heavy water related projects, including construction of a 40mw research reactor at Arak. An 11 February IAEA inspection showed that the installation of cooling and moderator circuit piping was almost complete. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Fereidun Abbasi told reporters on 23 February that the Arak reactor chamber is completed and will be installed soon, and that fuel rods are ready to be transferred to the site. He said Iran will begin operating the facility in the next Iranian year (20 March 2013 – 20 March 2014). However, Washington’s Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) maintains this schedule is not realistic (MEES, 23 November 2012). (CONTINUED - 306 WORDS)