Iran blames Bushehr delay on "small leak", not virus

Mon Oct 4, 2010 9:21am GMT

* Salehi: Stuxnet virus "nothing to do" with Bushehr delay

* Iran atomic chief blames a small leak in a pool

TEHRAN, Oct 4 (Reuters) - A small leak in a pool near the reactor caused a delay in starting up Iran's first nuclear power plant but it has now been fixed, a senior official was quoted as saying on Monday.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, also said the delay had nothing to do with the global Stuxnet computer virus believed mainly to have affected Iran.

Last week, Iranian officials said Stuxnet had hit staff computers at Bushehr, a symbol of Iran's growing geopolitical sway and rejection of international efforts to curb its nuclear activity. But the virus had not affected major systems there, they said. [ID:nHAF647557]

Security experts say the release of Stuxnet may have been a state-backed attack on Iran's nuclear programme, most likely originating in the United States or Israel, which accuse the country of seeking to develop atomic bombs. Iran denies this.

When Iran began loading fuel into Bushehr in August, officials said it would take two to three months for the plant to start producing electricity and that it would generate 1,000 megawatts, about 2.5 percent of the country's power usage.

But Salehi said last week the fuel would soon be transferred to the core of the reactor and the plant would begin supplying energy in 2011, signalling a delay in its start-up.   Continued...

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