Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor completed the hydraulic testing phase and with it came closer to its start-up. The 915 MWe VVER pressurised water reactor is being constructed by Russia. The secondary circuit has now been tested up to a pressure of 110 kg/cm2 in accordance with the power station's program. Western intelligence sources said that the plant’s primary circuit  as already been hydraulically tested up to 250kg/cm2, which is 40 percent above the normal operating pressure.

The sources said further, that the testing confirmed that main and auxiliary equipment in the two circuits are functioning efficiently within the plant’s design parameters. The Iranians expect the nuclear reactor to be operational in March this year. The Bushehr VVER reactor was scheduled to be operational in 2006, but the project was beset by delays.

The initial core had been delivered to the Iranians at the end of January 2008 and in September 2009 Iran reported that the reactor is to 96 percent complete with testing underway and the fuel loading was expected for October 2009. Informed sources in Vianna said that for the first year of operation, the Bushehr nuclear plant will be operated by a Russian-Iranian joint venture. The Bushehr power plant is outside the protracted international concern over Iran's program to develop its own uranium enrichment facilities.

The Bushehr reactor has been constructed under International Atomic Energy(IAEA) non-proliferation safeguards. Bushehr, will use nuclear fuel supplied by Russia under the IAEA deal and will be returned to Russia after use. In the meantime Iran has declared that it will continue with its own nuclear program despite the threats of sanctions.

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