The Bushehr nuclear power plant, the only one in Iran, resumed its operations two weeks after suspending them, announced on Monday (5) its director, in a context of power cuts in Tehran and in several cities across the country.
“The technical problem [da central] was resolved” and electricity production has resumed since Sunday,” said Mahmud Jafari, also deputy director of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (OIEA), to the Isna agency.
Bushehr is a port in the Gulf that is closer to the capitals of several monarchies in the Arabian Peninsula than to Tehran, which is why this plant, built in an area of numerous earthquakes, worries these countries.
On the night of June 20, the OIEA announced the temporary shutdown of the plant and its disconnection from the national electricity grid, alleging a “technical fault”, but without specifying its nature.
Two days later, the entity reported a “technical problem observed in the generator” of the unit and promised to solve it “as soon as possible”.
In turn, Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Khatibzdeh said the shutdown was scheduled “for a few days due to a technical failure or for technical reasons”, describing the incident as “something routine in the field of nuclear power plants ”.
The resumption of operations in Bushehr comes at a time when the capital, Tehran, and many cities in Iran are suffering from power cuts related, among others, to record consumption, according to officials.
The spokesman for the national electricity company, quoted by the official Irna agency, apologized on Monday for the cuts the day before.
Mostafa Rajabi-Machhadi warned that electricity consumption has reached 65,900 MW, which he says is “unprecedented in the Iranian electricity sector.”
While “electricity production from hydro and thermal power plants” in Iran “does not exceed 55,000 MW in total,” he added.
According to a recent government report, Iranians could face water supply restrictions in the coming months due to lack of rain in recent months.
The Bushehr plant, with a 1,000 MW reactor, was built by Russia and was officially delivered in September 2013, after years of delay.
On March 29, Jafari had stated that the IOEA was having trouble “providing certain necessary products or services” for the plant to function properly due to US sanctions that isolate Iran from the international financial system.
Bushehr’s stoppage may be related to negotiations underway since April in Vienna to salvage the 2015 international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, including the return of the United States to the pact.
The deal offered Tehran relief from Western and UN sanctions in exchange for its commitment not to equip itself with atomic weapons and to drastically reduce its nuclear program, under strict UN control.
But the pact was undermined in 2018 by former President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw and reinstate US sanctions.
In response to sanctions, Iran abandoned most of the commitments it had accepted in the agreement.
Iran, located at the intersection of several tectonic plates and crossed by several geological faults, is also an area of great seismic activity.
Arab countries neighboring the Gulf often express concern about the reliability of the Bushehr plant and the risk of radioactive leakage in the event of a major earthquake.
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