TEHRAN, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Iran has begun the process of loading fuel into the core of its first nuclear reaction, the country's state television says.
It marks a milestone in the process of bringing the Bushehr plant online in preparation for its goal of beginning to produce electricity in 2011, the BBC reported Tuesday.
The facility in southern Iran will be operated by Russia, which is providing the nuclear fuel and will dispose of the plant's nuclear waste, the BBC said.
Iran's uranium enrichment program, which is a separate effort, has worried Western nations that distrust Iran's claims the program is solely for peaceful purposes, leading to repeated U.N. sanctions.
Mohammad Ahmadian of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said 160 fuel rods would be installed in the reactor's core, a process expected to take two to three weeks.
"The reactor will [then] hopefully be ready to become operational," Ahmadian said.
He noted, however, it would take a month or two to begin producing electricity at full capacity.