Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) today confirmed reports that it would be removing fuel from the Bushehr nuclear reactor, signaling a serious problem developing in the plant, delaying its startup. Iran's ambassador to IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told the Iranian news agency ISNA that Russian engineers who build the plant had advised that the fuel be unloaded for test.
"Based on Russia's request to run tests and technical measures, the fuel will be unloaded from the core of the reactor and will be returned to it after completion of the tests," Soltanieh said [ISNA, 26 February].
Last month, citing the adverse affects of Stuxnet computer worm on Bushehr’s safety, the Russians raised serious concerns over starting up the power plant in April as scheduled. The removal of the fuel indicates that Stuxnet may have caused serious harm to the 1,000-megawatt reactor.
IAEA, which mentioned the fuel problem in its report on Friday, would now supervise the fuel unloading procedure, Soltanieh said.