TEHRAN: Iran’s sole nuclear power plant is back online following an emergency shutdown two weeks ago, state TV reported on Saturday.
The report quoted Mostafa Rajabi Mashahdi, spokesperson for the country’s energy ministry, as saying the Bushehr plant “returned to production energy” after the completion of needed maintenance.
Mashahdi did not elaborate but last week, Iran’s nuclear department said engineers were working to repair the plant’s broken generator.
Authorities earlier this year had warned of Bushehr’s possible closure because of American sanctions barring Iran from procuring equipment for repairs.
Bushehr is fuelled by uranium produced in Russia, not Iran, and is monitored by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA acknowledged being aware of reports about the plant, but declined to comment.
Construction on Bushehr, on the coast of the northern reaches of the Arabian Gulf, began under Iran’s shah in the mid-1970s. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the plant was repeatedly targeted in the Iran-Iraq war. Russia later completed construction of the facility.
The 1,000-megwatt plant feeds the grid with enough energy for a tiny part of Iran’s nationwide 64,000-megawatt consumption.
IAEA deputy head to visit Iran for ‘routine’ matters
Meanwhile, the deputy head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog IAEA is to visit Iran for “routine” matters and no talks are planned, Iran’s envoy said on Saturday according to state media, as the agency awaits a reply from Tehran on an expired monitoring deal.
In late June, the International Atomic Energy Agency demanded an immediate response from Iran on whether it would extend a monitoring agreement that had expired. Iran said this week it was yet to decide whether to extend the deal.
“(Massimo) Aparo...will visit Iran this coming week. His visit is in line with routine safeguards activities and within the framework of a comprehensive safeguards accord,” Kazem Gharibabadi said, according to the state news agency IRNA.
“Although we are in constant contact with the agency, no talks are planned for him in Tehran,” Gharibabadi said.
The planned visit by Aparo, the IAEA’s inspections chief, comes days after diplomats said that Iran has been restricting UN. nuclear inspectors’ access to its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, citing security concerns after what it says was an attack on the site by Israel in April.
This follows various moves by Iran that breach its 2015 nuclear deal with major world powers after the United States abandoned the agreement and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.