Iranian state TV says the country's first nuclear power plant has stepped up operations after years of delays.
Senior Iranian and Russian officials attended celebrations Monday for the official launch of the 1000-megawatt Bushehr plant in southern Iran.
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It began to generate between 350 to 400 megawatts of electricity, equal to 35 to 40 percent of the reactor's full capacity.
The Russian-built plant was connected to the national power grid for a test run September 4, generating 60 megawatts.
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi at launch (Photo: Reuters)
The launch of the plant has been delayed for years. The US and its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the claim.
Construction on the Bushehr facility was started in 1974 by a predecessor of Siemens AG, Germany’s largest engineering company. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the monarchy and the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war, the Germans quit over payment issues.
Russia took over after signing a $1 billion contract in 1995, when the break up of the Soviet Union left the nation’s nuclear industry short of funds and domestic orders.
Russia is supplying fuel for the Bushehr reactor and will take away the used material. Spent fuel can be used to make nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, on Sunday Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili wrote to the European Union foreign affairs chief to announce the Islamic state's readiness for fresh nuclear talks with major powers.
"A few days ago, Mr. Jalili's letter was sent to Ms. Catherine Ashton ... saying Iran is prepared for talks ... to reach bilateral agreements," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in a news conference, when asked about Iran's nuclear work.
In response a spokesman for Ashton said: "We have received the letter, and we will study it carefully."
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