Russian news agencies quote the country's nuclear agency chief as saying a Russian-built nuclear power reactor in Iran is still set to be switched on this year.

State-run RIA-Novosti and ITAR-Tass quote Sergei Kiriyenko as saying plans remain for a start-up of the reactor near the Iranian city of Bushehr by the end of the year.

Russia is helping Iran build its first nuclear power plant as part of a program Iran says is purely peaceful. The United States and Israel say it is meant to develop atomic weapons.

Officials in Russia and Iran had previously announced plans to switch the reactor on this year. But that was cast in doubt last month when reports quoted the head of the Russian company building the plant as saying there had been problems with financing.