In this file photo from 2010, a worker is riding a bicycle in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr. The only nuclear power plant in Iran is temporarily shut down, the state television reported on Sunday. Majid Asgaripour / AP hide caption
Majid Asgaripour / AP
Majid Asgaripour / AP
TEHERAN, Iran – Iran’s only nuclear power plant has undergone an unexplained temporary emergency shutdown, the country’s state television reported.
An official at the state-owned electricity company Tavanir, Gholamali Rakhshanimehr, said on a talk show broadcast on Sunday that the shutdown of the Bushehr plant began on Saturday and would last “three to four days.” Without going into detail, he said that there could be power outages.
This is the first time Iran has reported an emergency shutdown of the plant in the southern port city of Bushehr. It went online in 2011 with the help of Russia. Iran is required to return spent fuel rods from the reactor to Russia as a non-proliferation measure.
The report on the shutdown came as top diplomats said further progress had been made in talks between Iran and world powers on Sunday in an attempt to re-establish a groundbreaking 2015 deal to contain Iran’s nuclear development, that of the Trump -Administration has been abandoned. It is now up to the governments involved in the negotiations to make political decisions.
Earlier in the day, Tavanir released a statement saying the Bushehr nuclear power plant would be repaired, without giving any further details. The repair work would take until Friday, it said.
In March, nuclear official Mahmoud Jafari said the facility could shut down because Iran cannot source parts and equipment for it from Russia due to banking sanctions imposed by the US in 2018.
Bushehr runs on uranium produced in Russia, not Iran, and is overseen by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA admitted that it was aware of reports on the facility but declined to comment.
Construction of the plant on the coast of the northern Persian Gulf began in the mid-1970s under the Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the facility was repeatedly targeted in the Iran-Iraq war. Russia later completed the construction of the facility.
The facility, which is located near active fault lines and was built for strong earthquakes, was regularly shaken by tremors. No major earthquakes have been reported in the region in the past few days.
Meanwhile, the European Union chaired the final meeting of the sixth round of talks between Russia, China, Germany, France, Great Britain and Iran on Sunday in Vienna.
The nations involved in the negotiations have tried to resolve the most important outstanding questions of how the US can be returned to the groundbreaking nuclear deal from which then President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled Washington in 2018. Trump also restored and tightened sanctions to achieve this, forcing Tehran to renegotiate the pact with further concessions.
The meeting was the first since the Iranian justice chief’s landslide victory in the presidential election last Friday. Some diplomats have expressed concerns that the election of Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi could make a possible return to the nuclear deal more difficult.