Saturday, February 26, 2011

Iran to Remove Fuel from Bushehr Reactor – A Setback; Stuxnet Suspected

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.


Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, the IAEA report stated it was not related to Stuxnet.

If it isn't related to Stuxnet, then the fuel is tainted and the argument for self-sufficiency gains further credence,

If it is related to Stuxnet, this qualifies as a case of international terrorism.

We'll have to wait and see how this develops.

Anonymous said...

Iran will have to get rid of the Russians if they want to see their nuclear power plant go online. The Russians are just using the Bushehr plant as a political tool of leverage on Iran and to milk as much cash as possible..

How many years does it take to build a nuclear plant???

Kick the Russians out, immediately!!!!

Nader Uskowi said...

The IAEA report referenced the problem with the fuel without going into detail on its cause. What I have said here is based on Russia's previous misgivings to startup the reactor, publicly linking it directly to Stuxnet. The removal of the fuel at this late stage indicates a strong possibility that Stuxnet did contaminate Bushehr in a major way that calls for such unusual and radical move. This is a major setback for the Iranian nuclear program, but it is wise to remove the fuel now than cause a Chernobyl type disaster.

reader said...

I may be wrong but I doubt this is anything to do with the Stuxnet. The fuel rods may already be active making any necessary on-site corrective work complicated if not impossible. I would not be surprised if they decide to replace the suspected fuel rods with fresh rod already on order from Russia. If this is the case then we may be months if not years away from the full power operation. I just hope I am proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately getting rid of Russians from Busher is easier said than done. I am sure after 20-25 years, Iran would have done that if Iran could. The fact of matter is that Iran is still dependent on Reactor construct on Rissians. Except Russians there is really no other entity to help Iran. US/Europe are not interested. The rest of the World do not have the expertise or commercial capacity to do so. So Iran is stuck with the Russians.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this reload of fuel is related to Stuxnet although it is a good excuse (fear of unknown).

My understanding is that the Russian contractor is providing turn-key solution to Iran and it is the Russian contractor to fullfil its obligation. Also note that the idea of Bushehr going online has only been mentioned by Iran and there has been no mention by the contractor to that effect. I guess this is going to be dragged on for as long as it takes by the Russians for obvious political reasons, turning the whole thing into one of the industrial mis-management of 20-21st century. I guess Iran will be fed up with the Russians and at some point will take over the project itself. I wonder after 25 years, the whole technology may turn up to be totally obsolete with mismatch of German and Russian technology.

Lorne M. said...

The plant was supposed to be seen as a pride of Iran as it was the first nuclear power plant built in the Middle East. Now the pride turned to an embarrassment for the country when the start-up had to be delayed repeatedly and it is still not specified when the fuel would be returned into the core of the reactor. They have wasted millions or billions of dollars on it and it seems much more will be spent to get it going.

Alborz said...

that could be a rputine check.
you put the load in to the kernel of the plant after a short time , you unload the fuel and check the kernel, for example if there are some rips or holes.

Yuri said...

"A source close to the project said the fuel was being unloaded on the suspicion that metal particles from nearly 30-year old equipment used in the construction of reactor core had contaminated the fuel.
"We're talking about particles of about 3 millimeters in size," said the source speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"Some of the equipment used in the construction has been sitting around for 30 years. The fuel has to be unloaded and examined to make sure no metal particles have gotten into it."