Russia says it will begin to load fuel into the reactor at Iran's first nuclear power plant on August 21.
The reactor building of Iran's nuclear power plant is seen, at Bushehr, Iran, 750 miles (1,245 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, (File).
A spokesman for the Russian nuclear agency made the announcement Friday, saying loading the reactor with fuel will be a key step toward starting the power plant in Bushehr. But he said the reactor will not be considered operational from that date.
Russia has been helping Iran build the nuclear power plant.
But Moscow has hardened its position against Iran's other nuclear activities in
recent weeks. Western powers accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons
under the cover of its civilian nuclear program - a charge repeatedly denied by
President Dmitri Medvedev said Thursday that though the two countries have an active trade partnership, Russia is not indifferent to the way Iran is developing its nuclear program.
Last month President Medvedev called on Iran to explain its nuclear program and to fully cooperate with the international community.
Russia last month joined other world powers in approving a fourth set of U.N. sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment operations.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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