Iran's energy minister said the country's nuclear power plant at Bushehr will begin operating by the end of the year.
Speaking to reporters at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, Parviz Fattah said the Bushehr nuclear plant will begin producing at about half capacity (500 megawatts) by late August. He said it should reach its full 1,000-megawatt capacity by the end of March, 2010.
Iran has been building its first nuclear power plant with Russian help.
The full launch of the facility at Bushehr, in southern Iran, has been frequently delayed, but Russian and Iranian engineers began testing it last month.
An Iranian foreign ministry official, Hossein Sheikh al Islam, said early this month that it would be fully operational in September.
Speaking in Istanbul Friday, Energy Minister Fattah said Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, echoing other Iranian officials who have disputed U.S. and European claims that the Islamic Republic is trying to build nuclear weapons.
The Bushehr plant is meant to run on enriched uranium imported from Russia, rather than on fuel produced in Iran. The United States and several European nations fear Iran could use the enrichment process to produce highly enriched fuel for a nuclear bomb.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.