7 August 2002 – An official of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] has inspected the Bushehr nuclear plant in southern Iran to ascertain its compliance with international regulations for the exploitation of nuclear energy and safety standards.

Shamim Chaudhury, the head of the technical co-operation department of the IAEA for Western Asia and the Middle East, also discussed with related Iranian officials the nature of Tehran’s technical co-operation with other countries to build the plant.

The Islamic Republic has expanded its co-ordination with the IAEA in recent years and regularly hands over documents relating to the design and safety of the Bushehr plant to the agency which promotes the use of nuclear energy for peaceful means. The country has also opened the plant, built with Russian assistance, to regular supervision of the agency, which has confirmed its intention for peaceful use.

Moscow’s co-operation with Tehran over the construction of the plant has irked the US, which alleges that the Islamic Republic could use it for building nuclear weapons. Both Iran and Russia have rejected these allegations and stressed the plant’s use for civilian purposes.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi on Monday reiterated Iran’s bid to complete the plant, given the ‘enormous sum’ which the country has already spent on its construction. “We don’t pay attention to threats and are determined to finish the works on the Bushehr station,” he said.

Russia announced recently it was intending to build the second nuclear plant in Bushehr, but raised eyebrows by stating that further work on the project depended on ‘political factors’.