Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant
The Bushehr Power Plant is a 1000 megawatt-electric (MWe) pressurized water reactor constructed near the town of Bushehr in southeastern Iran. It is Iran’s only operating civil nuclear power reactor. The project was initiated in 1975 through a bilateral agreement with Germany, but work only continued through 1979, when the revolution ousted the Shah and construction stopped. Iran signed a contract with Russia’s Ministry for Atomic Energy in 1995, but the project continued to face technical and financial obstacles. The plant first reached criticality in May 2011, and officially came online in September 2011. Russia supplies the fuel for this reactor.1
The Bushehr reactor has raised safety concerns due to the merging of a German and Russian design, which involves the use of Russian equipment and more than two-decade old German-supplied equipment, some of which has failed after operations began. The reactor is also close to a major fault line, and the region frequently experiences earthquakes. In April 2013, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the region, but Bushehr operators reported no damage to the plant.2
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1 “Bushehr 1,” International Atomic Energy Agency Power Reactor Information System, accessed April 29, 2013.
2 Yeganeh Torbati, “Iran Earthquake Kills 37, Shakes Nuclear Power Plant,” The Christian Science Monitor, April 9, 2013.