TEHRAN, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The head of Iran's atomic energy organization said plans are under way to expand the search for new uranium deposits in the country.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the country's atomic energy organization, said the search has turned into a top priority now that the Bushehr nuclear power plant is running, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said.
On Saturday, engineers began loading the first of 163 fuel rods into the reactor under the supervision of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the report said.
The plant is expected to become fully operational next month, the agency said.
Salehi said until now one-third of the country has been explored for uranium deposits.
Iran's Atomic Energy Organization will be tasked with conducting the search and will work anywhere a uranium vein is detected, he said.
"With the assistance of President (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) and the allocation of a budget, we hope to survey the whole country as far as uranium exploration is concerned," Salehi told IRNA.
Salehi estimated that the search for uranium deposits could take eight years.