Iran’s sole nuclear power plant underwent an unexplained temporary emergency shutdown, state TV reported on Sunday.
An official from the state electric energy company, Gholamali Rakhshanimehr, said on a talk show that the Bushehr plant shutdown began on Saturday and would last “for three to four days.”
He said that power outages could result. He did not elaborate, but this is the first time that Iran has reported an emergency shutdown of the plant, located in the southern port city of Bushehr. It went online in 2011 with help from Russia. Iran is required to send spent fuel rods from the reactor back to Russia, as a nuclear nonproliferation measure.
In March, nuclear official Mahmoud Jafari said that the plant could stop working, since Iran cannot procure parts and equipment for it from Russia due to banking sanctions imposed by the US in 2018.
Bushehr is fueled by uranium produced in Russia, not Iran, and is monitored by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reported shutdown.
Construction on Bushehr, on the coast of the northern reaches of the Persian Gulf, began under Iran’s shah in the mid-1970s. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the plant was repeatedly targeted in the Iran-Iraq war. Russia later completed the construction of the facility.
The plant, which sits near active fault lines and was built to withstand powerful quakes, has been periodically shaken by temblors. There have been no significant earthquakes reported in the area in recent days.
Last month, an explosion at a petrochemical site in the Bushehr province killed one worker and inured two others.
Numerous explosions have been reported over the past few years in complexes vital to Iran’s nuclear program and its energy and military sectors, most notably an alleged sabotage at the Natanz atomic plant and the killing of the regime’s top nuclear scientists in two separate incidents last year.
Some of the incidents have been said to stem from technical malfunctions, while others have been blamed by the Islamic Republic on its enemies, including the US and Israel.