Iran will load fuel into the core of its first nuclear power plant on Tuesday, a senior MP said, and celebrations will be held to mark what is one of several important steps in the Islamic state's nuclear program.
"The fuel of Bushehr power plant will be loaded to its core tomorrow," the head of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Monday.
Iran began fuelling the plant in August and officials have said the reactor will begin producing energy in early 2011, a delay of several months following the spread of a global computer virus believed to have affected mainly Iran.
Iran says the plant eventually will generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity, about 2.5 percent of its power needs.
Experts have said firing up the $1-billion plant will not take Iran any closer to building a nuclear bomb since Russia will supply the enriched uranium for the reactor and take away spent fuel which could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium.
Iran has been under international pressure to halt enriching uranium, something the West fears is aimed at making nuclear weapons. Tehran denies it wants to make a bomb and says its nuclear activities are aimed at reducing consumption of its abundant fossil fuels, allowing it to export more oil and gas.
The United States has criticized Russia for building and supplying fuel to Bushehr.
Tehran's refusal to stop enrichment has resulted in a series of U.N. sanctions and tougher unilateral measures by the United States, the European Union and others.
Iranian officials have confirmed the Stuxnet virus had hit staff computers at the Bushehr plant but had not affected major systems there. Security experts say the computer worm may have been a state-sponsored attack on Iran's nuclear program and may have originated in the United States or Israel.