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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs