Iran says it can produce its own nuclear fuel

Last Updated: Saturday, January 8, 2011 - 21:04

Tehran: Atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi
declared in a report today that Iran is now capable of making
its own nuclear fuel plates and rods, technology the West says
the Islamic republic does not possess.

Salehi, the driving force behind Iran`s contentious
atomic programme, said the country has completed the
construction of a facility in the central city of Isfahan to
the fuel plates and rods which power nuclear reactors.

"We have built an advanced manufacturing unit in the
Isfahan site for the fuel plates," Salehi, who is also acting
foreign minister, told Fars news agency in what was said to be
an exclusive interview.

"A grand transformation has taken place in the production
of (nuclear) plates and rods. With the completion of the unit
in Isfahan, we are one of the few countries which can produce
fuel rods and fuel plates."

Salehi said it was the Western policies towards the
Islamic republic which had propelled its nuclear achievements,
including the making of nuclear plates and rods.

"This is in fact because of West`s actions that we came
to this point," he said.

"What we say is based on reality and truth. There is no
exaggeration or deception in our work. It is them who do not
want to believe that Iran has no intention, but to obtain
nuclear technology for peaceful purposes."

The West led by the United States suspects that Iran`s
nuclear programme masks a weapons drive, a charge Tehran
vehemently denies.

On November 23, Salehi had told state news agency IRNA
that Iran would produce the nuclear fuel required for a
research reactor in Tehran by September 2011.

"By the month of Shahrivar next year (September 2011), we
will produce fuel for the reactor," said Salehi, who is also
one of Iran`s vice presidents.

Western powers have repeatedly said Iran does not possess
the technology to make the actual nuclear fuel plates required
to power the Tehran research reactor which makes medical
isotopes.

In February 2010, Iran started refining uranium to 20
percent with the purpose of using it to make the plates that
could power the reactor.

That came amid a deadlock with world powers over a
nuclear fuel swap deal drafted by the UN atomic watchdog and
aimed at providing fuel for the research unit.

Salehi told Fars Iran has now produced nearly 40
kilograms (88 pounds) of uranium enriched to the 20-percent
level, despite Western calls for Tehran to suspend the work.

"We have nearly 40 kilograms of 20-percent enriched
uranium," he said in the interview.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, January 8, 2011 - 21:04

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