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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
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.

AppleAndroid