News / Middle East

    Iran Says It Has Produced Its First Yellowcake Uranium

    Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, cuts a ribbon during a ceremony, as a truck containing Iran's first domestically mined raw uranium arrives at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility, 05 Dec 2010
    Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, cuts a ribbon during a ceremony, as a truck containing Iran's first domestically mined raw uranium arrives at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility, 05 Dec 2010

    Iran's nuclear energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi says his country has produced its first batch of yellowcake uranium, the material used for enrichment. Salehi said the development "strengthens" Tehran's position in the next round of nuclear talks, set to start Monday in Geneva. 

    The announcement by Salehi on Iranian TV had a dramatic pitch and a gave what appeared to be a solid plug for the well-being of Iran's nuclear program.  Iranian TV commentators also took pains to deny rumors of a set-back to the program due to damage from the Stuxnet computer virus.

    Salehi described Iran's production of yellowcake uranium as a major achievement, stressing that Tehran would inform the International Atomic Energy Agency of the development.

    He says that today, Iran has witnessed a new achievement with the first shipment of yellowcake uranium produced domestically in Iran.  He says the yellowcake was shipped from the Gachin mine in Bandar Abbas to the Isfahan production facility, and the IAEA would be informed, because Iran, in his words, respects its international obligations.

    But Iran's nuclear energy chief did not indicate the quantity of yellowcake produced by the Isfahan plant.

    Salehi completed his melodramatic announcement by insisting that Iran has become self-sufficient in the nuclear fuel cycle, going from exploration to mining, to production of yellowcake, to the conversion into uranium hexofloride, and finally into fuel plates or pellets.

    The Iranian announcement was made one day before a new round of talks is due to be held in Geneva with world powers over Tehran's nuclear program.  Iran insists its program is intended solely for civilian purposes, but the West suspects it is trying to build nuclear weapons.

    A senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Mark Fitzpatrick, points out the announcement appears unusual because experts believe Iran already was able to produce yellowcake.

    "The announcement is surprising because many outside analysts thought Iran had been producing its own yellowcake for at least two years, according to a December 2008 article by a well-respected expert," he said.  "It seems we were wrong about that."

    Fitzpatrick says Iran's production of yellowcake would be unlikely to meet the needs of its one nuclear plant.

    "The announcement does not mean that Iran's nuclear program can be self-sufficient.  The Gachin mine and mill are small-scale, designed to produce less yellowcake annually than is needed by one Bushehr-sized reactor.  No other uranium mines are operating in Iran, although one with low-grade uranium has been under development for 15 years," he said.  "To be self-sufficient in full fuel cycle, Iran will have to find a lot more good quality uranium ore.  Otherwise they will have to continue to rely on imported uranium."

    Iranian-born analyst Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute in Washington argues Salehi's announcement appears to have little solid substance, adding that he believes it was intended for political purposes.

    "The way he sort of formulated [the announcement] suggested to me that it is aimed as a political message, because he very swiftly turns around and makes the connection to the upcoming talks, which start [Monday] and he says 'We are not going to go to the table of negotiations from a position of weakness," said Vatanka.

    Vatanka says Iran may be trying to play tough for its domestic audience, but be more willing to negotiate in private once in Geneva.

    NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora