The shipment of Russian-produced nuclear fuel to Iran has been pushed back towards the end of 2005 from April as was originally announced. Anatoly Kotelnikov, deputy head of Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency recently told NEI the shipment would be made at the end of the year.
The delay is not thought to have political implications – or be politically motivated. An unnamed official told Reuters that it was difficult to say when the shipments would start, but “I think we are going to do this in the autumn.” He added that there was no need to start shipments before then.
It is normal for fuel to be delivered for loading about six months before the first operation of a reactor, so the delay gives Bushehr an expected criticality date in mid-2006.
The 168 fuel assemblies made by TVEL are currently stored in Siberia and would be transported to Iran by air using routes, methods, procedures, and personnel carefully agreed by the two countries. Russian engineers, experienced in air shipments of fuel, would make ten shipments in total.