Iran is set to launch its first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr next week, state-run Fars News Agency (FNA) reports.

Preparations are underway and 165 nuclear fuel bars will be transferred to the reactor in the Bushehr power station on 21 August, Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s atomic energy chief said on 13 August.

Russian atomic agency Rosatom said the Bushehr plant would launch in a formal ceremony on August 21. The agency has been building the plant since the mid-1990s, but the project was marred by a series of delays.

According to Rosatom the 1,000 MW power plant will work at a minimal power of 1 per cent after 3-4 months.

In 2007 and 2008, Russia delivered a consignment of 82 tonnes of nuclear fuel to Iran, which has since been stored and sealed under UN nuclear agency safeguards. Iran will send spent fuel rods back to Russia for reprocessing.