The Russian state nuclear agency, known as Rosatom, has started work at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in southern Iran.
"On 3 May 2018, soil stabilization works under the reactor building of power unit No 2 commenced at Bushehr-2 Nuclear Power Plant construction site," Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported, adding that the effort will allow for concrete pouring sometime in late 2019.
Soil stabilization is required to reduce the settlement of buildings and structures, ensuring their stability in case of seismic shifts in the ground deep below the earth’s surface. The construction of the power plant’s second and third phases began last November. The two power plants are expected to begin supplying electricity to Iran’s power grid in 10 years.
Atomic energy cooperation between the two Caspian neighbors is nothing new. Russia and Iran signed a number of documents in November 2014, expanding atomic energy bilateral cooperation and opening up to eight power units inside Iran.
At the time, the Nuclear Power Production and Development Company of Iran and Russia’s Atomstroiexport signed two contracts: one for the construction of units 2 and 3 of Bushehr-2 under the Engineering, Procurement and Construction terms and on a turnkey basis; and another for engineering studies and collection of data at the site of Bushehr-2.
Deputy Chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Behrouz Kamalvandi announced in December 2014 that Iran has started building two new nuclear power plants in the southern province of Bushehr.
In 1995, Iran signed the Bushehr contract with Russia and the nuclear power plant reached its full capacity by August 2012, which is located about 18 kilometers south of the provincial capital.
The original plan of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant included three phases of development, and it should have three power plants each with a 1,000 MW power-generation capacity. According to Iran's 20-year vision plan, the country should have enough nuclear plants to produce 20,000 MW of nuclear-generated power by 2025.
Iran estimates that each 1,000 MW reactor of the Bushehr plant will save the country 11 million barrels of crude annually. Iran is eyeing several ways to spend the additional megawatts, including powering a water desalination plant in Bushehr province.
Germany’s Kraftwerk Union began construction of two reactors at Bushehr in 1975, then under commission by Iran’s monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the new government discontinued payments, and the German firm backed out of the contract, leaving the first reactor nearly completed and the second only partially built. The eight-year Iran-Iraq war prevented Kraftwerk Union from reviving the project during the 1980s, as the plant was repeatedly targeted by Iraqi air strikes.