Russia to boost staff at Iran’s nuclear power plant

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MOSCOW, Nov 28 (Reuters) – The Russian state company building Iran’s first atomic power station said on Friday it would increase personnel at the plant by at least 25 percent as it readies to start up the nuclear reactor.

Under a $1 billion construction contract, Russia has already made deliveries of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr plant on the Gulf coast in southwest Iran.

“The nuclear power station at Bushehr is entering a new phase. Atomstroyexport is increasing its efforts to bring more personnel to work on the station,” the Russian contractor said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

“The main technology for the station has already been installed, so the construction work is being concluded while the activisation work is getting under way,” Atromstroyexport said.

This new phase of the project — which involves readying the nuclear reactor for start up — requires that staff be increased to more than 2000 workers from the current 1600, it said.

The head of Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Sergei Kiriyenko, was quoted on Thursday by state Russian media as saying that the Bushehr plant would be completed in 2009.

The launch of the Bushehr plant’s nuclear reactor has frequently been delayed. Russian and Iranian officials have given different dates for the start-up. Iran’s foreign minister said last year the plant would launch in mid-2008.

Russia agreed in 1995 to build the plant on the site of an earlier project begun in the 1970s by German firm Siemens. The Siemens project was disrupted by Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

The United States and some European Union countries suspect Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb under cover of its civilian nuclear programme. Iran denies that.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has repeatedly said Moscow does not want Iran to be armed with nuclear weapons but that Russia has seen no evidence that Tehran is seeking to build atomic bombs. (Reporting by Simon Shuster; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

Nov 28, 2008 07:53 EST

Source: Reuters

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