Iran’s first nuclear reactor starts “pilot stage” at Bushehr Wednesday
The preliminary phase of Iran’s first reactor, built with Russian help at the southern town of Bushehr, was marked by a ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 25. Our sources report that Iranian nuclear teams will first activate the 1,000-MW reactor’s sections in sequence with the help of advanced Russian computers flown in to monitor their progress. The head of Iran’s nuclear commission, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, and the head of Russia’s state Rosatom Atomic Corporation, Sergey Kiriyenko were on hand, though the latter declined to say when the reactor would go into operation.
The announcement by the Iranian News Agency took Washington and Jerusalem by off-balance. Moscow has continually delayed meeting the deadlines in its $1 billion contract for completing the project. It was hoped that the reactor would never be finished – at least until the US and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev met for the first time on April 2, at the G-20 summit.
However, the Moscow and Tehran have clearly got together for moves ahead of that meeting: Bringing Iran’s first nuclear reactor to preliminary operation and a contract for selling Iran advanced Russian S-300 air defense missile systems. Israeli officials point to Russian press reports maintaining that Moscow will not execute this contract. However that is not what the Iranian defense minister Gen. Mostafa Najar heard during his visit to the Russian capital last week. Our Moscow sources disclose that he was assured that the S-300 missile sale would be separated from the Moscow-Washington controversy over the deployment of US missile interceptors and radar in East. Europe and delivered by the end of the year.
The Iranian defense minister said Sunday, Feb. 21: “Russian officials are well aware that Moscow, rather than Iran is the target of Washington’s missile plans.” Just back from Moscow, Najar remarked: “The United States, mired in an all-out financial meltdown, will eventually avoid the unnecessary cost of a missile project” – a view he apparently picked up from his Russian hosts.
debkafile‘s military sources reported earlier that that defense minister Najar and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov made good progress in their talks on the sale of advanced S-300 ground-to-air missiles to Iran. Both sides agreed it was essential to provide Iran’s Bushehr reactor with an effective system against air and missile attack.
Western military sources say the Moscow talks are refining a formula to enable Iran to deploy the S-300 batteries guarding Bushehr at its other nuclear sites as well.