Iran claimed on Sunday it could now use domestically mined uranium to produce nuclear fuel, giving the country complete control over a process the West suspects is geared toward producing weapons.
Tehran made the claim a day before a new round of nuclear talks with world powers that want to rein in Iran’s uranium enrichment -- a process that can be used either to make fuel for nuclear energy or nuclear weapons.
The nuclear chief said Iran had for the first time delivered domestically mined raw uranium to a processing facility -- allowing it to bypass U.N. sanctions prohibiting import of the material. Four rounds of U.N. sanctions have targeted Iran’s uranium enrichment programme.
Nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said the uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, was produced at the Gachin uranium mine in southern Iran and delivered to the uranium conversion facility in the central city of Isfahan for reprocessing.
Mr Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the delivery was evidence that mysterious bombings targeting two Iranian nuclear scientists would not slow the country’s progress. One of the scientists died and another was wounded.
“Today, we witnessed the shipment of the first domestically produced yellowcake ... from Gachin mine to the Isfahan nuclear facility,” said Mr Salehi, whose comments were broadcast live on state television.
The four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran forbid the supply of nuclear materials to Tehran.