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Iran’s Only Operational Nuclear Power Plant Risks Shutdown

Iran’s only operational nuclear power plant risks shutdown as the U.S. sanctions prevent the Islamic Republic from transferring money internationally to buy equipment, an executive of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was quoted as saying on Monday.

Mahmoud Jafari, a deputy at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that the Bushehr nuclear power plant was “facing the risk of shutdown,” because of the inability to buy the necessary equipment from outside Iran, Bloomberg reports, citing the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

Due to the U.S. sanctions on banking transfers involving Iranian entities, the Islamic Republic is struggling to keep up with the nuclear reactor’s operational and maintenance costs and with paying the Russian contractors, the Iranian official was quoted as saying.

Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that as of 2019, most of Iran’s electricity generation came from natural gas, followed by oil, with hydropower a distant third, and nuclear power an even more distant fourth.

Russia has built the Bushehr-1 nuclear power plant in Iran, which has been in operation since 2011. There are plans for site expansion with Bushehr phase 2, which is said to cost around US$10 billion and is expected to be completed by 2026.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in January that Moscow was ready to help Iran with the expansion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant with the construction of more units.

The operational Bushehr-1 nuclear power plant is not considered a threat when it comes to the potential proliferation of nuclear activities beyond civil purposes, according to the UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The international community is more concerned about Iran’s activities with uranium enrichment, especially after the Trump Administration pulled the U.S. out of the so-called Iran nuclear deal and imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and international bank transfers.  

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on March 30 2021 said:
    Nonsense. If Iran has been successfully evading US sanctions and selling up to 1.5 million barrels a day (mbd) of its crude oil around the world, does anybody with full faculties think Iran will be unable to pay Russia money due for Russian contracts or for whatever equipment needed to keep its Russian-built nuclear power plant operational. The simple thing is for Iran to pay Russia in oil.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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