News / Middle East

Iran Touts Uranium Enrichment Advances

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he deliver his speech near the Azadi (freedom) tower at a rally to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that toppled the country's pro-Western monarchy and brought Islamic clerics to power,
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he deliver his speech near the Azadi (freedom) tower at a rally to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that toppled the country's pro-Western monarchy and brought Islamic clerics to power,

Iran hailed its advanced nuclear capabilities Wednesday by unveiling what it says are a new generation of centrifuges to speed up uranium enrichment and its first domestically produced fuel rods.

The semi-official Fars news agency reported Wednesday that the new carbon fiber centrifuges have been installed and operated at a uranium enrichment plant in the central desert city of Natanz.

Also Wednesday, Iranian state television broadcast live images of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad overseeing the loading of what it said are 20 percent enriched uranium fuel rods into an aging Tehran reactor. The 43-year-old plant produces nuclear isotopes for treating cancer patients and is expected to soon run out of imported fuel stocks.

Iranian state media also reported that Ahmadinejad was set to formally declare the Fordo enrichment site - an underground complex built inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom - to be "fully operational."

Iran touted the advancements as steps in the country's efforts to master the complete nuclear fuel cycle, despite Western penalties and U.N. sanctions aimed at stopping the process.  A number of countries suspect Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Israel and the United States have said that all options are open to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said in January that the centrifuges at Fordo and the main Natanz facility are enriching uranium up to 20 percent - inadequate for a nuclear weapon, but enough to power up the Tehran medical research reactor. It is, however, far easier to make bomb-grade fuel from 20 percent purity than from lesser concentrations.

Iran says it wants to secure parts of its enrichment activities at Fordo in order for its nuclear program to survive a hostile military airstrike.

Russia's deputy foreign minister said Wednesday that a nuclear-armed Iran is "not an option for Russia," voicing concern at progress made by Tehran in its nuclear drive.

Also Wednesday, the European Union said it had received Iran's reply to a letter sent nearly four months ago by foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton proposing a return to talks with major powers to discuss its disputed nuclear program.

The last talks between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany (the so-called P5+1 group) took place in Istanbul a year ago and produced no results.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report in November citing evidence of Iranian efforts to design a nuclear weapon in violation of international sanctions and agreements. Iran says the report was based on fabrications.

A team from the IAEA is scheduled to make a two-day visit to Iran early next week. The agency's chief inspector said experts had "intensive discussions" with Iran about its nuclear aims during a trip in late January, and that both sides had "a lot of work to do."

In a separate development, Iran's oil ministry said Tehran will not cut crude exports to six European Union countries "at the moment" after state media reported it was looking into doing so. The cutoff, as originally announced, would have affected the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid