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Archive for June, 2012

China plant resources need additional protections

Washington DC (SPX)
Sep 13, 2011

China needs to change where it sites its nature reserves and steer people out of remote rural villages toward cities to protect its valuable but threatened wild plant resources, according to an article published in the September issue of BioScience.

The article, by Weiguo Sang and Keping Ma of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Botany and Jan C. Axmacher of University College, London, lists seven strategic steps that are needed to secure the future of China’s wild plants, which the authors say are not effectively conserved by the country’s existing protected areas.

Many of those areas exist only on paper and are located far from Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, where rare species are found in the largest numbers, according to Sang and his coauthors.

Protected area managers in many cases currently lack basic data about which plant species are present on their reserves and even the exact area and extent of the reserves. Consequently, the effects of China’s rapid economic development, the related spread of invasive species, and the growth of tourism could drive to extinction species that could be sources of future crops and medicine.

Apart from creating well-enforced reserves in appropriate areas and encouraging the rural poor, who often overexploit plant resources, to move into cities, China should develop accurate data on threats to its plant species, develop specific management and monitoring plans for the most threatened, and encourage sustainable eco-tourism that does not damage plants, the BioScience authors argue.

The country should also consider temporary protection of very rare species in botanical gardens and expand funding and training for traditional taxonomy, as well as experimental ecosystem laboratories and management.

Source: Seed Daily.

Polymer from algae may improve battery performance

Clemson SC (SPX)
Sep 13, 2011

By looking to Mother Nature for solutions, researchers have identified a promising new binder material for lithium-ion battery electrodes that not only could boost energy storage, but also eliminate the use of toxic compounds now used to manufacture the components.

Known as alginate, the material is extracted from common, fast-growing brown algae. In tests so far, it has helped boost energy storage and output for both graphite-based electrodes used in existing batteries and silicon-based electrodes being developed for future generations of batteries.

The research, the result of collaboration between scientists and engineers at Clemson University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, will be reported Sept. 8 in Science Express, an online-only publication of the journal Science that publishes selected papers in advance of the journal. The project was supported by the two universities as well as by a Honda Initiation Grant and a grant from NASA.

“Making less-expensive batteries that can store more energy and last longer with the help of alginate could provide a large and long-lasting impact on the community,” said Gleb Yushin, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering.

“These batteries could contribute to building a more energy-efficient economy with extended-range electric cars, as well as cell phones and notebook computers that run longer on battery power – all with environmentally friendly manufacturing technologies.”

Working with Igor Luzinov at Clemson University, the scientists looked at ways to improve binder materials in batteries. The binder is a critical component that suspends the silicon or graphite particles that actively interact with the electrolyte that provides battery power.

“We specifically looked at materials that had evolved in natural systems, such as aquatic plants which grow in saltwater with a high concentration of ions,” said Luzinov, a professor in Clemson’s School of Materials Science and Engineering. “Since electrodes in batteries are immersed in a liquid electrolyte, we felt that aquatic plants – in particular, plants growing in such an aggressive environment as saltwater – would be excellent candidates for natural binders.”

Finding just the right material is an important step toward improving the performance of lithium-ion batteries, which are essential to a broad range of applications, from cars to cell phones. The popular and lightweight batteries work by transferring lithium ions between two electrodes – a cathode and an anode – through a liquid electrolyte. The more efficiently the lithium ions can enter the two electrodes during charge and discharge cycles, the larger the battery’s capacity will be.

Existing lithium-ion batteries rely on anodes made from graphite, a form of carbon. Silicon-based anodes theoretically offer as much as a tenfold capacity improvement over graphite anodes, but silicon-based anodes so far have not been stable enough for practical use.

Among the challenges for binder materials are that anodes to be used in future batteries must allow for the expansion and contraction of the silicon nanoparticles and that existing electrodes use a polyvinylidene fluoride binder manufactured using a toxic solvent.

Alginates – low-cost materials that already are used in foods, pharmaceutical products, paper and other applications – are attractive because of their uniformly distributed carboxylic groups. Other materials, such as carboxymethyl cellulose, can be processed to include the carboxylic groups, but that adds to their cost and does not provide the natural uniform distribution of alginates.

The alginate is extracted from the seaweed through a simple soda-based (Na2CO3) process that generates a uniform material. The anodes then can be produced through an environmentally friendly process that uses a water-based slurry to suspend the silicon or graphite nanoparticles. The new alginate electrodes are compatible with existing production techniques and can be integrated into existing battery designs, Yushin said.

Use of the alginate may help address one of the most difficult problems limiting the use of high-energy silicon anodes. When batteries begin operating, decomposition of the lithium-ion electrolyte forms a solid electrolyte interface on the surface of the anode. The interface must be stable and allow lithium ions to pass through it, yet restrict the flow of fresh electrolyte.

With graphite particles, whose volume does not change, the interface remains stable. However, because the volume of silicon nanoparticles changes during operation of the battery, cracks can form and allow additional electrolyte decomposition until the pores that allow ion flow become clogged, causing battery failure. Alginate not only binds silicon nanoparticles to each other and to the metal foil of the anode, but they also coat the silicon nanoparticles themselves and provide a strong support for the interface, preventing degradation.

Thus far, the researchers have demonstrated that the alginate can produce battery anodes with reversible capacity eight times greater than that of today’s best graphite electrodes. The anode also demonstrates a coulombic efficiency approaching 100 percent and has been operated through more than 1,000 charge-discharge cycles without failure.

For the future, the researchers – who, in addition to Yushin and Luzinov, included Igor Kovalenko, Alexandre Magasinski, Benjamin Hertzberg and Zoran Milicev from Georgia Tech; and Bogdan Zdyrko and Ruslan Burtovyy from Clemson – hope to explore other alginates, boost performance of their electrodes and better understand how the material works.

Alginates are natural polysaccharides that help give brown algae the ability to produce strong stalks as much as 60 meters long. The seaweed grows in vast forests in the ocean and also can be farmed in wastewater ponds.

“Brown algae is rich in alginates and is one of the fastest-growing plants on the planet,” said Luzinov, who also is a member of Clemson’s Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET). “This is a case in which we found all the necessary attributes in one place: a material that not only will improve battery performance, but also is relatively fast and inexpensive to produce and is considerably more safe than the some of the materials that are being used now.”

Source: Energy-Daily.

Iran Inaugurates Controversial Nuclear Plant

By Jack Phillips
September 12, 2011

The launching of the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant was inaugurated by Iranian officials on Monday, according to local media reports.

The plant was connected to Iran’s national grid earlier this month after several years of delays and officials told Tehran Times that it is generating around 40 percent of its power capacity. The plant will reach full capacity by the end of the year, officials said.

Iran coordinated a ceremony that was attended by local as well as Russian officials.

“The launch of Bushehr nuclear power plant is one of the most important events over the past three decades,” said Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of the Russia-based Rosatom company, according to IRNA.

However, International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano expressed concerns on Monday regarding Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

“Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran,” he said.

If the Islamic Republic cannot provide more transparency, it is not possible to “conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” Amano added.

Source: The Epoch Times.

Turkish PM Arrives in Egypt Amid Tense Environment

By Genevieve Long Belmaker & Aron Lamm
September 12, 2011

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting Egypt as part of his “Arab Spring” tour of several countries. His visit comes on the heels of a deadly mass protest on Friday that led to the Israel’s entire diplomatic staff, including the ambassador, leaving Egypt. The mob, of which three died and about 1,000 were injured, broke into the Israeli embassy and an Egyptian police station in Cairo.

Erdogan’s last visit to Egypt was in January 2009, when he was there to consult over an Israeli military assault on Gaza. In the same year, then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited Istanbul. There had not been any other substantive high-level meetings the allies until this week.

The current visit also comes under the shadow of Turkey’s recent break in diplomatic relations with Israel over the death of nine Turkish passengers aboard a ship that was part of a flotilla bound for Gaza in mid-2010. Turkey wanted an apology and reparations for the families of the deceased.

Both Western and Arab journalists posted several messages on Twitter late Monday about Erdogan’s arrival in Cairo, reporting that a crowd of over 1,000 had gathered to welcome him.

Ivan Watson, an Istanbul-based CNN correspondent, Tweeted that “Crowd of 1000+ cheering Egyptians from Muslim Brotherhood at Cairo airport to greet Turkish PM Erdogan,” and “Cairo airport crowd holding signs saying ‘Muslim Brotherhood welcomes Erdogan.’”

Turkey has emphasized foreign relations in recent years under its foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, who has advocated for the country to play a more central role in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus.

U.S.-based author and historian Srdja Trifkovic believes Turkey, a NATO member and currently negotiating European Union membership, is consciously but carefully navigating away from the West with the ultimate goal of forging its own power base.

“[Turkey’s] objective is to build up and cement [its] role as a regional power in its own right, fully independent of Washington and Brussels but always willing to act ‘multilaterally’ if Washington and Brussels go along with Ankara’s agenda,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Epoch Times.

Trifkovic argues that Turkey is no longer the compliant ally that NATO and the West believe it to be. While Turkey is playing along for now, “this is only postponing the day of reckoning … and the reigning team in Ankara is in my opinion fully reconciled to that.”

Source: The Epoch Times.

Mauritania census spurs protests


Police and demonstrators clashed Saturday in Nouakchott at a rally against the national census under way in Mauritania, Pana reported on Sunday (September 11th). Mauritanian human rights organizations AVOMM and OCVIDH are among the census opponents that claim it excludes the country’s black population. Expatriates also rallied against the census in Paris on Saturday. Protestors carried banners with the slogans “Stop Racism in Mauritania” and “Hands Off My Nationality”.

Source: Magharebia.

Mass grave discovered in Tripoli


A mass grave was discovered Sunday (September 11th) on the ring road around Tripoli’s Souk al-Juma. Dr. Mohammed al-Tarhuni of the Libyan Interior Ministry’s forensic laboratory said there were up to 17 bodies buried within a “close distance”.

The Kadhafi regime forbade the burial of revolutionaries in known cemeteries. Witnesses said the bodies were buried on August 21st, one day after the liberation of Tripoli.

Source: Magharebia.

Latest Exoplanet Haul Includes Super Earth At Habitat Zone Edge

Geneva, Austria (SPX)
Sep 13, 2011

The HARPS spectrograph on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile is the world’s most successful planet finder. The HARPS team, led by Michel Mayor (University of Geneva, Switzerland), has announced the discovery of more than 50 new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, including sixteen super-Earths.

This is the largest number of such planets ever announced at one time. The new findings are being presented at a conference on Extreme Solar Systems where 350 exoplanet experts are meeting in Wyoming, USA.

“The harvest of discoveries from HARPS has exceeded all expectations and includes an exceptionally rich population of super-Earths and Neptune-type planets hosted by stars very similar to our Sun. And even better – the new results show that the pace of discovery is accelerating,” says Mayor.

In the eight years since it started surveying stars like the Sun using the radial velocity technique HARPS has been used to discover more than 150 new planets. About two thirds of all the known exoplanets with masses less than that of Neptune were discovered by HARPS. These exceptional results are the fruit of several hundred nights of HARPS observations.

Working with HARPS observations of 376 Sun-like stars, astronomers have now also much improved the estimate of how likely it is that a star like the Sun is host to low-mass planets (as opposed to gaseous giants). They find that about 40% of such stars have at least one planet less massive than Saturn. The majority of exoplanets of Neptune mass or less appear to be in systems with multiple planets.

With upgrades to both hardware and software systems in progress, HARPS is being pushed to the next level of stability and sensitivity to search for rocky planets that could support life. Ten nearby stars similar to the Sun were selected for a new survey. These stars had already been observed by HARPS and are known to be suitable for extremely precise radial velocity measurements. After two years of work, the team of astronomers has discovered five new planets with masses less than five times that of Earth.

“These planets will be among the best targets for future space telescopes to look for signs of life in the planet’s atmosphere by looking for chemical signatures such as evidence of oxygen,” explains Francesco Pepe (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland), the lead author of one of the recent papers.

One of the recently announced newly discovered planets, HD 85512 b, is estimated to be only 3.6 times the mass of the Earth and is located at the edge of the habitable zone – a narrow zone around a star in which water may be present in liquid form if conditions are right.

“This is the lowest-mass confirmed planet discovered by the radial velocity method that potentially lies in the habitable zone of its star, and the second low-mass planet discovered by HARPS inside the habitable zone,” adds Lisa Kaltenegger (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany and Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Boston, USA), who is an expert on the habitability of exoplanets.

The increasing precision of the new HARPS survey now allows the detection of planets under two Earth masses. HARPS is now so sensitive that it can detect radial velocity amplitudes of significantly less than 4 km/hour – less than walking speed.

“The detection of HD 85512 b is far from the limit of HARPS and demonstrates the possibility of discovering other super-Earths in the habitable zones around stars similar to the Sun,” adds Mayor.

These results make astronomers confident that they are close to discovering other small rocky habitable planets around stars similar to our Sun. New instruments are planned to further this search.

These include a copy of HARPS to be installed on the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands, to survey stars in the northern sky, as well as a new and more powerful planet-finder, called ESPRESSO, to be installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in 2016. Looking further into the future also the CODEX instrument on the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) will push this technique to a higher level.

“In the coming ten to twenty years we should have the first list of potentially habitable planets in the Sun’s neighborhood. Making such a list is essential before future experiments can search for possible spectroscopic signatures of life in the exoplanet atmospheres,” concludes Michel Mayor, who discovered the first-ever exoplanet around a normal star in 1995.

HARPS measures the radial velocity of a star with extraordinary precision. A planet in orbit around a star causes the star to regularly move towards and away from a distant observer on Earth.

Due to the Doppler effect, this radial velocity change induces a shift of the star’s spectrum towards longer wavelengths as it moves away (called a redshift) and a blueshift (towards shorter wavelengths) as it approaches. This tiny shift of the star’s spectrum can be measured with a high-precision spectrograph such as HARPS and used to infer the presence of a planet.

The results are being presented on 12 September 2011 at the conference on Extreme Solar Systems held at the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA.

A summary is presented in the following paper (in preparation): “The HARPS search for southern extra-solar planets, XXXIV – Occurrence, mass distribution and orbital properties of super-Earths and Neptune-type planets” to appear in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Source: Space Daily.

Israel seeks to boost UAV strike power

Tel Aviv, Israel (UPI)
Sep 12, 2011

The Israeli air force is expanding its wing of unmanned aerial vehicles built by Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems, some to be used as missile-armed gunships.

Meantime, The Jerusalem Post reports that state-run IAI, Israel’s leading defense contractor, is working with Rheinmetall Defense of Germany to develop a new weapons system for aerial drones to cope with proliferating threats facing the Jewish state.

The air force plans to form a new squadron of medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs consisting of Elbit’s Hermes 900 and IAI’s Heron 1 to enhance its drone capabilities.

The Israeli air force bought three Hermes 900s for evaluation in May 2010 and is waiting for final approval from the General Staff of the Israeli armed forces to purchase new platforms under a five-year procurement plan currently being finalized.

The 900 is based on the smaller Hermes 450, which has been in service for several years. It has been widely used to carry out assassination missions against Palestinian militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip using missiles.

The 900 variant can carry double the equipment payload of the 450. These include electro-optic cameras, laser designators, radar systems, electronic intelligence and electronic warfare suites.

The Israeli military’s moves to reinforce its UAV capabilities comes amid new security threats in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula following deadly clashes in early August in which Palestinian extremists killed eight Israelis.

A senior military official disclosed Friday that the air force has deployed a special UAV unit along Israel’s porous 150-mile border with Sinai north of the Gaza Strip.

Israel has had to bolster its forces on that frontier, which has been dormant since the country’s March 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.

Al-Qaida operatives have infiltrated into Sinai amid the unrest that followed the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Feb. 11. They have apparently recruited disgruntled Bedouin tribesmen. More attacks are expected.

The Israelis are also preparing for possible conflict with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as well as unrest linked to the Palestinians’ plans to declare statehood later this month.

All these fronts will require UAVs for surveillance, reconnaissance and combat missions.

The IAI-Rheinmetall joint venture to develop a loitering weapons system for UAVs would appear to fit into this conflict scenario.

The Post reported that the system is known as WABEP, the German acronym for “weapons system for standoff engagement of individual and point targets.”

The newspaper’s military correspondent, Yaakov Katz, said WABEP “is a combination of Rheinmetall’s KZO drone and IAI’s Harop attack drone.” It is understood the Harop is already in service with Turkey and India.

The propeller-driven Harop, based on the earlier Harp craft, was designed to suppress radar systems linked to surface-to-air missile systems or similar high-value targets.

It “can fly to a designated loitering position where it searches for electromagnetic signals from surface-to-air missile batteries and then dives in to destroy them,” Katz reported.

Such high-risk missions have in the past largely been carried out by manned “Wild Weasel” F-4 or F-16 aircraft.

“Loitering weapons systems is considered a highly classified topic in Israel, which is believed to have developed a number of systems over the years capable of loitering over battlefields and engaging static and mobile targets,” Katz wrote.

“Such systems are believed to be critical ahead of a future conflict with an enemy like Hezbollah, which has deployed tens of thousands of missiles and launchers throughout Lebanon.”

Harop was unveiled by IAI at the Paris Air Show in July 2009.

Jane’s Missiles and Rockets monthly reported that it has an undernose turret with optical systems that include a thermal imager and color CCD camera.

“The vehicle can attack from any direction and from any angle between the horizontal and the vertical,” JMR noted. “It is armed with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead.”

Source: Space War.

‘Super-Earth,’ 1 of 50 Newfound Alien Planets, Could Potentially Support Life

By Denise Chow, Staff Writer
Mon, Sep 12, 2011

More than 50 new alien planets — including one so-called super-Earth that could potentially support life — have been discovered by an exoplanet-hunting telescope from the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

The newfound haul of alien planets includes 16 super-Earths, which are potentially rocky worlds that are more massive than our planet. One in particular – called HD 85512 b – has captured astronomers’ attention because it orbits at the edge of its star’s habitable zone, suggesting conditions could be ripe to support life.

The exoplanet findings came from observations from the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher instrument, or HARPS. The HARPS spectrograph is part of ESO’s 11.8-foot (3.6-meter) telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. [Illustration and video of alien planet HD 85512 b]

“The harvest of discoveries from HARPS has exceeded all expectations and includes an exceptionally rich population of super-Earths and Neptune-type planets hosted by stars very similar to our sun,” HARPS team leader Michel Mayor of the University of Geneva in Switzerland said in a statement. “And even better — the new results show that the pace of discovery is accelerating.”

The potentially habitable super-Earth, officially called HD 85512 b, is estimated to be only 3.6 times more massive than Earth, and its parent star is located about 35 light-years away, making it relatively nearby. HD 85512 b was found to orbit at the edge of its star’s habitable zone, which is a narrow region in which the distance is just right that liquid water could exist given the right conditions. [Gallery: The Strangest Alien Planets]

“This is the lowest-mass confirmed planet discovered by the radial velocity method that potentially lies in the habitable zone of its star, and the second low-mass planet discovered by HARPS inside the habitable zone,” said exoplanet habitability expert Lisa Kaltenegger, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Boston.

Further analysis of HD 85512 b and the other newfound exoplanets will be able to determine more about the potential existence of water on the surface.

“I think we’re in for an incredibly exciting time,” Kaltenegger told reporters in a briefing today (Sept. 12). “We’re not just going out there to discover new continents — we’re actually going out there to discover brand new worlds.” [Infographic: Alien Planet HD 85512 b Holds Possibility of Life]

The HARPS spectrograph is designed to detect tiny radial velocity signals induced by planets as small as Earth if they orbit close to their star.

Astronomers used HARPS to observe 376 sunlike stars. By studying the properties of all the alien planets detected by HARPS so far, researchers found that approximately 40 percent of stars similar to the sun is host to at least one planet that is less massive than the gas giant Saturn.

In other words, approximately 40 percent of sunlike stars have at least one low-mass planet orbiting around it. On the other hand, the majority of alien planets with a mass similar to Neptune appear to be in systems with multiple planets, researchers said.

Astronomers have previously discovered 564 confirmed alien planets, with roughly 1,200 additional candidate worlds under investigation based on data from the Kepler space observatory, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Iran, Russia inaugurate Bushehr nuclear plant

Sep 12, 2011

Tehran – Iranian and Russian officials Monday inaugurated Iran’s first nuclear power plant in the southern Gulf port of Bushehr, the Khabar news network reported.

The ceremony was attended by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi and nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi, as well as Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and the head of Russia’s state-run nuclear power corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, Khabar reported.

Forty per cent of the 1,000-megawatt capacity is to be connected to the national energy grid in the initial phase, and full capacity is scheduled to be reached in November.

The plant uses Russian-made fuel and its nuclear waste is to be returned to Russia. Iran and Russia have granted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full supervision of the joint plant.

‘This is the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East, and Iran and Russia have set an example for peaceful nuclear cooperation,’ said Abbasi, Iran’s vice-president and head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization.

‘The start of the Bushehr plant symbolically shows to the world how a country could maintain its freedom and independence through resistance,’ he added, in reference to Western opposition towards Iran’s nuclear programs.

Responding to concerns from neighboring sheikhdoms, Abbasi said in his inauguration speech that safety was a top priority at the Bushehr plant.

In a joint press conference, Shmatko said that all internationally required safety measures should be fully implemented before using the plant at full capacity.

‘Based on clear international regulations and standards, more tests should be made before starting the plant at full capacity and Iranian experts should not sacrifice safety for the sake of reaching the final phase earlier,’ Shmatko said.

While Iran wants the plant to reach maximum level as soon as possible, Shamtko stressed that the connection of the plant to the national grid was being made according to a very precise safety plan.

This includes switching off the plant’s reactor several times to carry out additional tests before gradually increasing output to 50, 75 and finally 100 per cent of the total capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

‘All relevant tests made so far have been approved by the IAEA and further tests are necessary to make sure that the plant will work safely for decades,’ the Russian official said in the press conference, shown by Khabar TV.

Abbasi confirmed that Iran and Russia had made initial agreements to build further nuclear power plants, probably in or near Bushehr on the Persian Gulf, but did not rule out cooperation with other countries.

‘As our final aim is to reach production of 20,000 megawatts and we cannot realize this aim just by our own experts, we are open to cooperation with other countries as well,’ Abbasi told reporters.

The Iranian nuclear chief once again reiterated that Iran had a legitimate right to pursue peaceful nuclear programs, as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. International pressure and United Nations sanctions would not hinder Iran’s nuclear work, he said.

‘We are committed to all international nuclear regulations but not beyond that,’ Abbasi said, referring to IAEA demands that Iran responds to Western intelligence reports accusing Tehran of working on a secret nuclear weapon program.

Western media representatives were not allowed to attend the inauguration ceremony, and only Iranian and Russian reporters were dispatched to Bushehr.

The construction of the plant was started in 1975 by a German company, which dropped the project in the 1990s due to political considerations.

In 1995, Russia signed a contract to complete the plant but the start-up date was delayed for technical and political reasons.

Iran and Russia are reportedly to have equal shares in the joint venture operating the Bushehr plant, but gradually all shares are to be transferred to the Iranian side.

Moscow plans to hand the facility completely over to Iranian hands within the next three years, but Tehran wants full control much sooner.

Source: Monsters and Critics.

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