Tehran: The country’s Atomic Energy Agency stated in a statement that Iran’s only nuclear power plant was temporarily closed due to a “technical failure”.
The Bushehr nuclear power plant and its 1,000-megawatt reactor on the southern coast of Iran were built by Russia after a delay for many years and was officially handed over in September 2013, raising concerns about earthquake-prone areas in the region.
The shutdown comes as Tehran and world powers attempt to revive a hobbled 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna talks, which an EU negotiator said Sunday were moving “closer to a deal.”
That agreement is staunchly opposed by Israel, which Tehran has accused in the past of sabotage against its nuclear enrichment efforts.
“Following a technical fault at Bushehr power plant, and after a one-day notice to the energy ministry, the plant was temporarily shut down and taken off the power grid,” the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said on its website around Sunday midnight.
The statement said the plant will be reconnected to the grid and the issue will be resolved “in a few days,” but did not elaborate further.
The company said that the repair work may continue until this weekend, which is Friday in Iran.
In 2016, Russian and Iranian companies began to build two other 1,000 MW reactors in Bushehr. Their construction is expected to take 10 years.
Iran’s Gulf Arab neighbors often express concerns about the reliability of the facility and the risk of radioactive leakage in the event of a major earthquake.
According to the authorities, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake occurred in Bushehr Province in April this year, which injured 5 people, but the nuclear facilities were “not damaged”.
Also in April, after a “small explosion” at the facility’s power distribution center, Iran accused Israel of being behind the “terrorist” attack on its Natanz uranium enrichment plant.
After Tehran and several other cities were hit by a sudden power outage, which triggered consumer complaints and an apology from the Minister of Energy, Iran started a total power outage in May this year.
The shortage is due to heat, drought affecting hydroelectric power generation, and partly due to the surge in electricity demand for cryptocurrency mining.
Power outages during the peak summer period in Iran are not uncommon, but a government report last month stated that precipitation has fallen by 34% compared to the country’s long-term average and warned that water supply will be reduced this year.
Since late May, the Department of Energy has regularly notified citizens of “potential power outages” that last for at least two hours, unless consumption in their area drops.
Iran’s outgoing President Hassan Rouhani announced last month that all cryptocurrency mining will be banned by September to reduce the pressure on the power grid.
The Islamic Republic has announced a long-term plan to build 20 nuclear power plants to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The 2015 nuclear agreement promised to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
After former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew and re-imposed punitive sanctions on the Islamic Republic, the agreement was broken in 2018.
But Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, agreed to rejoin the agreement, and the rest of the parties are negotiating in Vienna to try to save it.
According to local media reports, on May 23, an explosion occurred at a factory producing explosive materials in central Iran, causing 9 people to be injured. Three days later, a pipeline explosion occurred at a petrochemical plant near Iran’s Gulf Coast, killing one person.
Some people in the Islamic Republic see various incidents as the result of attacks by Israeli security forces. Others believe that US sanctions-which almost completely isolate Iran from the rest of the world and complicate the maintenance of industrial facilities-are a more likely cause.
In July last year, a provincial power company accused the “old transformer” of causing an explosion in a thermal power plant in the central Isfahan province.