(photo credit: AP)
Iran received the 7th shipment of nuclear fuel from Russia on Saturday for a power plant being constructed in the southern port of Bushehr, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The 11-ton consignment of enriched uranium arrived at the light-water Bushehr nuclear power plant on Saturday morning, with the final shipment of the fuel expected at a "determined time," the agency reported.
"Of 82 tons of initial fuel needed for the Bushehr nuclear power plant, 77 tons have been shipped to Iran so far," it added.
Iran received the first shipment of nuclear fuel from Russia on Dec. 17 after months of dispute between the two countries, allegedly over delayed construction payments for the reactor.
Iran has said Bushehr, the country's first nuclear reactor, will begin operating in the summer of 2008, producing half its 1,000-megawatt capacity of electricity.
Teheran heralded the first shipment as a victory, saying it proved its nuclear program was peaceful and not a cover for weapons development as claimed by the US and some of its allies.
The US initially opposed Russian participation in building the Bushehr reactor and supplying it with fuel, but reversed its position about a year ago to obtain Moscow's support for the first set of UN sanctions against Iran.
Washington was also influenced by Iran's agreement to return spent nuclear fuel from the reactor to Russia to ensure it doesn't extract plutonium from it to make atomic bombs.
Russia's decision to ship nuclear fuel to Iran follows a US intelligence report released last month that concluded Teheran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in late 2003 and had not resumed it since. Iran says it never had a weapons program.
It also came after the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Iran had been truthful about its past uranium enrichment activities.
The United States and Russia have said the supply of nuclear fuel means Iran has no need to continue its own uranium enrichment program - a process that can provide fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a bomb.
Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needed to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it was building in the southwestern town of Darkhovin.
Iranian officials have said they plan to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity through nuclear energy in the next two decades.