TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has begun loading fuel into the core of its first nuclear power plant, state TV reported Tuesday.
The English-language Press TV announced the injection of fuel into the core of the reactor at Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran.
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Amid great media fanfare, Iranian and Russian engineers started moving nuclear fuel into the main reactor building in August but a reported leak in a storage pool delayed injection of the fuel into the reactor.
Iran says the 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant, built with the help of Russia, will begin generating electricity in early 2011 after years of delays.
Tehran says that the launch shows its nuclear ambitions are peaceful and not aimed at making an atomic bomb.
The development comes as the United States and Europe seek to coax Tehran back into stalled talks about its nuclear enrichment activities which some countries fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
Officials have said the reactor will begin generating energy early next year, a delay of several months. Iranian officials denied speculation the global spread of the "Stuxnet" computer virus affected the start-up, although it did infect some computers.
Experts say that firing up the $1-billion plant will not take Iran any closer to building a nuclear bomb since Russia will supply the enriched uranium for the reactor and take away spent fuel which could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.