Iran and Russia celebrate start of Bushehr II
The first foundation stone for units 2 and 3 of the Bushehr nuclear power plant has been laid in a ceremony held at the construction site in southern Iran. Russian and Iranian delegations attending the event were led, respectively, by Rosatom director general Sergey Kirienko and the first vice president of Iran Ishak Jahangiri. The president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, and the director of AtomStroyExport (ASE), Valery Limarenko, also attended. Rosatom subsidiary ASE, which is the general contractor for the Bushehr project, and Nuclear Power Production and Development Company of Iran signed an EPC turnkey contract for construction of the units at Bushehr in November 2014. The two VVER-1000 units will be built with Generation III+ technology, including the latest safety features, and have a combined capacity of 2100 MWe, ASE has said. Russian-built Bushehr 1 was connected to the national grid on 3 September, 2011 and became the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East. During the ceremony, held on 10 September, the two sides signed a protocol on the start of work on the project to build units 2 and 3, known as Bushehr II. At a briefing, Kirienko noted that the units will be built according to a design Rosatom is also building at Kudankulam, India.
According to TASS news agency, Limarenko said Rosatom is keen on the "wide use" of Iranian-made materials and would therefore invite Iranian manufacturing companies to compete to work on the project via contract tenders. "We'll also attract construction workers from both Iran and third countries wherever this is economically feasible to do so," he said.
Rosatom has said previously that Bushehr II is expected to cost about $10 billion to build, and that the physical start-ups of unit 2 and unit 3 are planned for October 2024 and April 2026, respectively. Provisional acceptance of unit 2 by the Iranian customer is scheduled for August 2025 and that for unit 3 in February 2027.
According to a statement issued by Rosatom, Kirienko said at the ceremony that Russia's construction of Bushehr 1 demonstrated the country "always meets its obligations to foreign partners, regardless of changes in the global political climate". Bushehr II will "make a practical contribution to the expansion of Rosatom's of Russian-Iranian cooperation and, at the same time, mark a significant step toward strengthening Russia's position in the global market for civil nuclear power technology in a macro-regional context like the Middle East," he added. According to Press TV, Salehi told attendees of the ceremony: "We are opening a new page in the trend of our peaceful industrial nuclear activities."
Construction of the two new units will help Iran meet its energy needs, economize on its natural energy resources by avoiding the use of "22 million barrels of oil", and prevent the spread of "14 million tons of pollutants" into the air. Jahangiri said meeting energy needs is vital for economic development, adding that Iran needs to produce 5000 more megawatts of electricity each year in order to do this.
In January, Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - China, France, the UK, Russia and the USA - plus Germany - launched implementation of the nuclear agreement they signed in July last year. According to that accord, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for the termination of all nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Jahangiri said Iran's right to build nuclear power plants was based upon the peaceful application of nuclear energy, as outlined in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) established last year.
The Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Salehi as telling the ceremony attendees that Bushehr 1 and 2 will be constructed over 108 and 126 months, respectively. Salehi added: "In 2014, Iran and Russia signed three documents, one contract, one protocol, and one memorandum of understanding, in Moscow to construct the new units, paving the way for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the two countries to enter into a strategic, new phase." However, no concrete steps had been taken, until the six global powers "thrashed out a deal" on Tehran's nuclear program in July 2015. In addition to the new nuclear power capacity, desalinations facilities with a daily capacity of 200,000 cubic metres are to be built, lowering the cost of supplying clean water to the southern cities of the semi-arid country, Salehi added.