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Iran's nuclear plant will be operative by year end: Russia

world Updated: Feb 06, 2009 08:34 IST
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Iran's nuclear reactor built by Russia at Bushehr will be switched by the end of this year, the head of Russia's state nuclear energy agency said on Thursday.

"We are moving according to schedule," Sergei Kiriyenko told reporters in a Kremlin briefing. "I am planning to be there in late February."

The US and many Western European countries suspect Tehran's civilian nuclear energy programme of serving as cover for ambitions to build atomic weapons.

Russian agencies said Kiriyenko was referring to the first time the reactor will be started for a trial run.

Moscow began fuel deliveries to the reactor last year, but the startup of the plan has been chronically delayed.

Kiriyenko hinted that further set backs could come from using old German equipment that was delivered when German firm Siemens first undertook the construction of the plant 25 years ago.

Germany halted its work on Bushehr in line with US sanctions after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Moscow took up a contract to build the power plant in 1998, despite protests by the West.