TEHRAN, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The Iranian government aims to take full control over the Bushehr nuclear power plant within the next year, an atomic energy director said.
Iran in September started operations at the Bushehr plant with the help of Moscow. Russia, under an agreement with Iran, operates and supplies fuel for the plant.
Fereydoun Abbasi, director of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said Iranian engineers expect to take over the plant no later than next year.
"The preparations for the handover of the power plant by the Russian contractor (Atomstroyexport) to Iranian experts will be made in the near future," he was quoted by the semiofficial Mehr News Agency as saying.
Iran, a world leader in oil and natural gas reserves, is suspected of using its nuclear energy program as cover for a weapons program, an allegation the government denies.
The news agency reports that Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed that delegates from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency were scheduled to meet with Iranian officials in Tehran in December.
Tehran last week hinted it was considering a new round of negotiations over its nuclear program, a move that could include direct talks with Washington.