Iran 'tests' first nuclear power station

Original source: Iran declared on Wednesday that its technicians have started a test run of the country's first nuclear power station.

The power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr was built with Russian help and it is the first in a planned series of nuclear power plants.

But the opening of the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor has been delayed by construction and supply problems and pressure from the US on Russia to pull out of the project.

Iranian vice-president and nuclear-power chief Gholam Reza Aghazadeh said that the tests - using lead dummy fuel rods instead of uranium - began 10 days ago and 'could take between four and seven months.'

'Today was one of the most important days for the Iranian nation,' he proudly said. It was not known how long after the tests the reactor could start up.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: 'This should be understood as very bad news for the whole of the international community.'

He called for 'immediate and very determined steps in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.'

Iran denies that it is aspiring to become a nuclear-armed state, asserting its right to peaceful nuclear-energy generation like many other countries.

Mr Reza Aghazadeh also announced that the Persian nation now had 6,000 uranium enrichment micro-centrifuges running, up from 5,000 in November.