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. Iran honoring safety regulations in building Bushehr power plant: UN agency
VIENNA (AFP) Apr 22, 2005
Iran is honoring international safety operating standards in building its first nuclear power plant, with Russian help, in the southeast of the country, a UN atomic agency official said Friday.

Both the United States and Israel have objected to the building of the Bushehr reactor, which could go online at the end of next year, as they claim Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and that having such a facility will be a proliferation risk.

Ken Brockman, director of the division of nuclear installation safety of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was only speaking of the current construction of the facility, which is monitored by the IAEA, and whether the plant would be safe from an operational point of view, not whether it would be a security risk.

"So far, so good," Brockman told reporters.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a nuclear safety meeting of the 65-nation Convention on Nuclear Safety at IAEA headquarters in Vienna.

Brockman said the IAEA is "trying to find ways (so that) the Iranian state ... has the expertise to be able to safely operate this facility, remembering, once again, it's a commercial nuclear power plant and that's the aspect in which we're providing this particular guidance and assistance to the Islamic republic of Iran."

Brockman said the IAEA had "projects ongoing with the regulatory body of Iran to make sure they have an effective regulatory body" and also with Russia, which is helping Iran build the Bushehr reactor.

Brockman said the Iranians had shown a commitment "to doing appropriate quality checks" at Bushehr.

"I've seen many applications out there where the Iranians have identified construction that did not meet their quality standards and they've been very aggressive in going in and replacing it and making sure it does," he said.

Bushehr, which will be Iran's first nuclear power reactor, is being built under an agreement between the Russian and Iranian governments for 800 million dollars (615 million euros).

Russia signed a technological cooperation agreement with Tehran in 2002 that opened the way for construction of up to five reactors -- including a second one at Bushehr -- over the coming 10 years.

The agreement on Bushehr hinges on Iran's agreement to return the spent nuclear fuel to Russia for storage -- a provision both Russia and the West were insisting on to make sure that the Islamic state does not use the material to produce a nuclear weapon.

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