Despite international tensions over its uranium enrichment activities, ceremonies were held on Sunday in Iran to mark the first pouring of concrete for the Bushehr Nuclear Plant’s Unit 2 reactor, following Unit 1, which was completed in 2011 and connected to the national grid in September of that year.
The project is slated to include two more reactors scheduled for completion in 2024 and 2026. These are to be VVER-1000 reactors build with Generation III+ technology, using advanced safety features touted by Rosatom, the principle builder for all three units.
Rosatom and Iranian officials proceeded with a business-as-usual ceremony marking the first pour event, despite Iran’s recent series of announcements pertaining to uranium enrichment, which sparked an international fervor leading to a deal in 2015 signed by Iran, the United States, France, Russia, China and Germany. That deal limited enrichment of uranium to under four percent. Iran recently said it was enriching uranium to five percent, as the lower grade did not meet its domestic needs. While the higher percentage is a violation of the agreement, it remains far below the 90 percent enrichment required for weapons-grade material.
President Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement last year. As a result, Iran now claims that it was not the first country to break the deal established in 2015.
The deal to construct three reactors in Bushehr was signed in 2014. The primary contractor is Rosatom subsidiary ASE working along with the Nuclear Power Production and Development Company of Iran. Bushehr Unit 1 is the first nuclear power plant to become operational in the Middle East. The four-units under construction at Barakah in Abu Dubai, meanwhile, are 100 percent complete, 95 percent complete, 91 percent complete and 82 percent complete, respectively. Unit 1, however, has not yet been granted an operational license. The primary hold-up is the need to train more local technicians to operate the plant.
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