"There are already contacts with Russian and European firms. It is expected that construction would takebetween nine and 11 years," Fayazbakhsh said. The cost of the new power plants, which will be built alongside the existing facility in Bushehr, will be between $1.4 and $1.7bn, he said.
"Because we have the capability to produce nuclear fuel inside the country, in the long term, part of the fuel for the reactors will be provided by Iran and the rest will be imported," he told a news conference.
A Western diplomat said the tender announcement appeared to be aimed at justifying Iran's statement on Monday it had expanded its nuclear fuel programme in defiance of a UN demand to halt uranium enrichment, a process which can be used to make bombs.
Monday's announcement by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, that the country had begun enrichment on an "industrial scale" drew condemnation from the West.
Russia, Iran's closest big power ally, questioned whether Tehran had achieved such a level of production.
"I rather take it [the statement on power plant tenders] as another act of politics," said the Western diplomat.
"They need to prove that their [enrichment] programme is peaceful."
Russia is due to supply fuel for the plant it is now building, but the first shipment was delayed in a row over payments.