Iran's reactor said online by February

Jan. 3, 2011 at 9:02 PM
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TEHRAN, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Iran has invited Russia, China and some European Union members, but not the United States, to tour its nuclear facilities this month, European diplomats said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Iran's move was "a clever ploy, but it's not a substitute for Iran's responsibilities" to the International Atomic Energy Agency, The New York Times reported Monday.

The IAEA has been at odds with Tehran over Iran's uranium enrichment program. Crowley said Monday Iran's enrichment program violates six U.N. Security Council resolutions, the Times reported.

A European diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said the invited nations would probably not accept Iran's invitation, at least until after another round of talks on the issue, the newspaper reported.

The head of Iran's nuclear energy program says the Bushehr nuclear power plant could begin generating electricity by mid-February. Ali Akbar Salehi of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency said progress on the station's reactor, being built by Russian contractors, was going smoothly and accelerating, the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported Monday.

Salehi, currently Iran's acting minister of foreign affairs, said he was hopeful basic tests would be completed before the end of January.

He denied reports the Stuxnet computer virus has affected the nuclear station.

Western media recently reported the virus infiltrated Bushehr's control systems with the intent of obtaining information on the nuclear program and as sabotage, KUNA said.

Mohammad Jaafari, executor of the Bushehr nuclear station project, offered assurances on the safety of the installation, saying the station was "equipped with the latest safety and security systems and an incident along the lines of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster is not likely."

The type of control system at Bushehr and its level of security and safety greatly reduce the risk of any malfunction or accident, he said.

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