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Iran plans nuclear test

IRAN plans to carry out computer tests on its Bushehr nuclear power plant this week in preparation for its launch, official media said yesterday.

The head of Russia's state nuclear company, Sergei Kiriyenko, will attend Wednesday's "pre-commissioning" of Iran's first such power plant, located on the Gulf coast in southwestern Iran, according to its state radio.

The West, which suspects Iran of seeking to produce a nuclear bomb, has been critical of Russia's involvement in building Bushehr. Russia says it is purely civilian and cannot be used for any weapons program.

Kiriyenko said this month Russia aimed to start up a nuclear reactor at Bushehr by the end of the year.

Media said the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, would also attend the event.

Mohammad Saeedi, Aghazadeh's deputy, described the tests as a "preliminary phase" for starting the plant and told Reuters news agency that this would be followed by its commissioning and launch. He did not give a timetable.

State radio said all Bushehr's activities would be tested with computer software.

"Pre-commissioning is an important step before the actual commissioning of the power plant," the radio quoted Mohsen Delaviz, a spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, as saying.


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