Iran’s first nuclear power plant will be operating by mid-2010, according to Iranian and Russian officials.

The Bushehr plant was started in 1974 and abandoned five years later. Russia took over building work in the 1990s, but the project has been beset by delays, reports the BBC.

Iranian news agency Fars quoted the head of Iran’s atomic agency as saying that the plant had passed most tests successfully.

The chief of Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Sergei Kiriyenko, said: “2010 is the year of Bushehr.”

He told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Moscow: “There is absolutely no doubt that it will be built this year. Everything is going according to schedule,” reported Reuters.

Any nuclear fuel from the plant will be brought from and returned to Russia to stop it being used for weapons programmes.