FACTBOX-Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant
Aug 13 (Reuters) - Russia said on Friday it will begin loading nuclear fuel rods into the reactor at Bushehr, Iran's first atomic power station, on Aug 21, an irreversible step marking the start-up of the plant.
The West suspects Tehran of seeking to produce its own nuclear bomb and has been critical of Russia's involvement in building Iran's first nuclear power plant. Russia says it is purely civilian and cannot be used for any weapons programme.
Here are some important facts about Bushehr:
* The Bushehr plant is on the Gulf coast of southwest Iran. It is Iran's first nuclear power plant. * The Bushehr nuclear facility is associated with the city of the same name, but is actually located near Halileh about 12 km (8 miles) south of Bushehr proper. The site is also the location of Iran's Nuclear Energy College.
* Construction of two pressurised water nuclear reactors began in 1974 with the help of German contractor Siemens and French scientists. The Bushehr I reactor was 85 percent complete and the Bushehr II reactor was partially complete prior to the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
* With the fall of the shah in the revolution, the project was halted. The site was then damaged during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, and equipment was looted.
* The project was later revived with Russian help but construction ran into repeated delays blamed by Russia on problems with receiving payment from Iran. Current plans are for one reactor to be launched.
* Bushehr will have an operating capacity of 1,000 megawatts. Iran, the world's No. 5 oil producer, has said it wants to build a network of nuclear power plants with a capacity of 20,000 megawatts by 2020 to enable it to export more of its bountiful oil and gas. Continued...