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updated 5/20/2010 10:03:33 AM ET 2010-05-20T14:03:33

Russia's top nuclear official said Thursday that Iran's first nuclear plant is on schedule and will be put into operation this summer despite the threat of new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

"We expect (the nuclear power plant) will be launched by August if everything goes according to plan," Sergei Kiriyenko, chief of Rosatom, the state-run nuclear corporation, told journalists.

"The resolution on Iran being drawn up will not affect these plans," he added.

The United Nations Security Council is exploring options to impose sanctions against Iran for the country's alleged clandestine uranium enrichment program.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but the U.S. and others believe it's pursuing a nuclear weapons bid.

Iran has pursued a civilian nuclear program by erecting a reactor in Bushehr near the Persian Gulf.

Work on the plant began over 35 years ago by a German company that eventually abandoned the project after the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Russia agreed to complete the project in the 1990s, but has delayed the launching due to numerous problems, including disagreements over payment and where to store used fuel.

Russia delivered fuel for the plant, which will have 1,000 megawatts of output, more than two years ago.

Russian nuclear officials have said they will establish a joint venture with Iran to jointly operate the Bushehr plant for at least the first year.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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