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Iran is ready to provide assistance to Belarus in construction of nuclear power plant, ambassador says
Iran is ready to provide assistance to Belarus in the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant, Abdolhamid Fekri, the Iranian ambassador to Belarus, said at a news conference held on February 27, BelaPAN reported.
According to the ambassador, this assistance could be in areas such as funding, personnel training, the sharing of experience, the installation of equipment, and training in operating such equipment.
Such assistance will be provided if the Belarusian government makes an official request and Iran is able to give it, Mr. Fekri noted.
Belarus has a good scientific and technological potential, he said. “Despite the difficulties that had to be overcome, Iran has opened a new way – the peaceful use of nuclear energy – and is ready to share its achievements with all those who pursue peaceful purposes,” he added.
The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and West European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the Shah of Iran.
In 1974, Germany’s Siemens began the construction of two 1,200-1,300 megawatt electric (MWe) pressurized water nuclear reactors near Bushehr.
The Bushehr I reactor was 85 percent complete and the Bushehr II reactor was partially complete prior to the revolution, and was due to be completed in 1981.
After the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeyni declared this project "anti-Islamic," and the Iranian government soon abandoned it.
In 1995, Iran signed a contract with Russia to resume work on the partially complete Bushehr plant, installing into the existing Bushehr I building a 915MWe VVER-1000 pressurized water reactor.
The reactor is reportedly expected to be put into operation in March 2008. There are no current plans to complete the Bushehr II reactor. Iran has announced that it works on a new 360 MWe nuclear power plant, and that it will seek to have more medium-sized nuclear power plants and uranium mines in the future.
The Belarusian government plans to start the construction of a nuclear power plant next year and complete it in 2018. The 2,000-MW plant is supposed to supply some 15 percent of the country’s electricity needs.
Experts predict that Russia’s Atomstroiexport will most likely be awarded the contract for Belarus’ nuclear power plant project estimated at $4 billion.