updated 2/22/2009 12:01:44 PM ET 2009-02-22T17:01:44

Iran's official news agency says the country's first nuclear power plant will begin preliminary phase operation on Wednesday after a series of delays.

The Sunday report by the IRNA agency says "pilot stage operation" of the power plant will start on Wednesday during a visit by the head of Russia's state Rosatom Atomic Corporation, Sergey Kiriyenko.

The long-awaited 1,000-MW power plant, which was built in the city of Bushehr with the help from Russia under a $1 billion contract, was expected to become operational in fall of 2008.

Some 700 Iranian engineers were trained in Russia to operate the plant.

Tehran also plans to build a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in Darkhovin, in the southwestern Khuzestan province.

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