Iran has taken a step closer to its nuclear ambitions following successful tests at its Bushehr plant.The procedure, involving the simulated injection of enriched uranium into fuel rods, was carried out under the inspection of the Russian atomic energy chief. The power station was built by Russia’s state nuclear company. One top Iranian official said all preparations for the site’s use were completed and that it was now in “the operational phase”. The West fears Iran will use the facility as a cover for developing nuclear weapons, but Tehran denies this and Russia says the plant can only be used for generating electricity. The Islamic Republic’s refusal to halt its controversial nuclear research has resulted in three rounds of limited UN sanctions since 2006. Russia’s participation in the project has also strained relations between Washington and Moscow. Separately, the UN nuclear watchdog has said Iran has slowed expansion of its own uranium enrichment but that it has built up a stockpile of nuclear fuel.