MOSCOW — Russia’s top nuclear official said yesterday that Iran’s first nuclear plant is on schedule and will be put into operation this summer, while the country’s foreign minister urged Tehran to cooperate with international nuclear authorities to avoid possible sanctions.
The Russia-built plant in Bushehr has been a key issue of contention between Iran and the international community. Iran and Russia say the plant is intended only for electricity generation, but critics contend that it has been a part of alleged Iranian efforts to develop weapons.
“We expect the nuclear power plant will be launched by August if everything goes according to plan,’’ said Sergei Kiriyenko, chief of Rosatom, the state-run nuclear corporation.
The UN Security Council is exploring sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Russia and China were responsible for watering down the language of previous sanctions but have appeared to swing behind the United States, Britain, and France recently.