DUBAI - Iran's first nuclear power plant will become fully operational by early 2013, its energy minister was quoted as saying, more than two months after Russia said it was up and running normally following decades of delay.
The plant near the town of Bushehr on Iran's Gulf coast is a symbol of what Tehran says is its peaceful nuclear ambitions. The West suspects the Islamic Republic is seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability and imposed tough sanctions on it.
However, the Bushehr reactor is not considered a serious proliferation threat by nuclear inspectors. Their main concern is focused on sites where Iran enriches nuclear fuel, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions demanding it stop.
The reason for the apparent discrepancy on the status of Bushehr was not made clear in the comments by Energy Minister Najid Namjou, in a report carried by the English-language Iran Daily on Thursday, or whether it meant any new delay for the Russian-built complex.