Iranian Nuclear Reactor Reportedly Starts Up

May 10, 2011

The Bushehr Nuclear Power station is running at a low level, according to the Iranian state Fars News agency. It's not yet generating power, but it's supposed to connect to Iran's national electricity grid within two months.

Iran developed the plant with Russia's help. Last year, NPR's Michele Kelemen reported the U.S. doesn't see the Bushehr plant as a risk. She cited remarks from then-State Dept. spokesman P.J. Crowley:

KELEMEN: State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley took the news calmy, noting that Iran is still facing United Nations sanctions, and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog will be monitoring the power plant.

Mr. P.J. CROWLEY (Spokesman, State Department): Bushehr is designed to provide electricity to Iran. It is not viewed as a proliferation risk because Russia is providing the needed fuel and taking back the spent nuclear fuel, which is the principal source of potential proliferation.

KELEMEN: Crowley argues that the deal also undercuts Iran's argument that it needs to have its own enrichment capability.

Mr. CROWLEY: This is exactly the kind of model that we and others within the international community have offered to Iran over the years.

But, as NPR's Mike Shuster tells Morning Edition, a computer virus damaged a separate Iranian facility last year. Russian specialists helped check Bushehr for problems before resuming work. And in April, Iranian nuclear officials disclosed a second computer virus had been discovered. Mike says it's called the 'stars' virus and that Iran says it dealt with it.

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