Iran Earthquake: Could We See a Bushehr Nuclear Plant Crisis?

On Tuesday, an earthquake struck near one of Iran’s nuclear power plants. It is currently being reported by USA Today that at least 30 people are dead, and 800 people injured, although some media sources indicate higher number of causalities. Many small villages, containing houses made of mud brick, were devastated; however, according to a local politician and the Russian company that built the nuclear facility, the plant remains undamaged.

Abdulkarim Jomeiri, a member of parliament for Bushehr, told an Iranian news source, "The distance between the earthquake focal point and the Bushehr nuclear power plant was about 80 km and, on the basis of the latest information, there has been no damage to the power plant." 

The earthquake measured at 6.3 magnitude and was centered in Bushehr; however, the shock was also felt in the financial hub of Dubai and offices in Qatar and Bahrain.

Iran sits on major fault lines and has repeatedly been warned about safety hazards associated with these fault lines and their nuclear plant.

Those invested in the operation of the nuclear plant have every reason to be on edge. Two years ago in Japan a 9.0 magnitude undersea earthquake hit off the coast of Japan, triggering a tsunami that destroyed back-up generators and disabled the Fukushima nuclear plant's cooling system. As a result, three of the reactors melted down

Iran’s nuclear power plant does not belong to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, negotiated after the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, which contaminated wide areas and forced about 160,000 Ukrainians from their homes. Nevertheless, Tehran has repeatedly rejected safety concerns about Bushehr, undoubtedly due to continued hostility with the international community regarding their nuclear intentions.

News of the earthquake came shortly after it was announced that nuclear talks with Iran made no progress. In fact, earlier today Iran announced the expansion of Uranium production and claimed to have made other nuclear advances.