Iran tests first domestically made nuclear fuel rod

Nuclear fuel rods contain pellets of enriched uranium that provide fuel for nuclear power plants.

Tehran: Iran on Sunday said that its scientists
have "tested the first nuclear fuel rod produced from uranium
ore deposits inside the country," the website of the Iranian
Atomic Energy Organisation said.

"After going through physical checks, it was inserted
into the core of the Tehran research reactor in order to study
how well it works," the website added.

Iran said last month that it planned to insert
domestically produced uranium fuel into the Tehran research
reactor, which produces isotopes for medical purposes and
currently runs on a nearly depleted stock of nuclear plates
bought from Argentina in 1993.

The Tehran reactor requires uranium enriched to 20 per
cent, a far higher level than that needed for Iran`s Russian-
built nuclear power plant in Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, which
uses Russian fuel that is returned when spent.

The atomic energy organisation did not specify the level
of enrichment of the trial fuel rod but Iran`s programme to
enrich uranium to the higher level has been at the centre of
growing Western concerns about the goals of its nuclear

Western governments have expressed fears that Iran`s real
aim is to develop a capability to enrich uranium to the 90 per
cent level necessary for a nuclear bomb, an ambition Tehran
strongly denies.

Uranium enriched to 20 per cent level is normally
manufactured into plate, not rod, form for use as fuel.

Western governments nations have expressed scepticism
that Iran has the technology to produce plates.

Iran already faces four sets of UN sanctions and
additional unilateral Western sanctions imposed over its
refusal to heed repeated ultimatums to suspend its uranium
enrichment programme.

Ther announcement of the fuel rod test came a day after
US President Barack Obama signed into law tough new sanctions
targeting Iran`s central bank and financial sector.


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