Iran to start using own nuclear fuel plates
Iran will insert its first domestically produced high-enriched uranium into its Tehran reactor by mid-February, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in comments published by the state IRNA news agency Dec. 15.
This announcement could exacerbate international tensions around Iran’s controversial nuclear program at a time of increased speculation by Israeli and U.S. media as to whether military strikes against Iran’s atomic facilities are necessary. “Within the next two months, the first fuel plate produced with the 20 percent enriched uranium will be placed in Tehran’s research reactor,” Salehi, who previously headed Iran’s nuclear organization, was quoted as saying. His statement was an excerpt from a longer interview to be released in full on Dec. 17, IRNA said.
The West fears Iran’s nuclear program masks a push to develop an atomic weapons capability, a charge Tehran denies. Four sets of U.N. sanctions and additional Western measures have been imposed to pressure Iran to halt its enrichment program, before it comes closer to producing the 90 percent uranium needed for nuclear warheads. The Tehran research reactor currently runs on a stock of 20 percent enriched fuel imported from Argentina in 1993, but this is close to deletion. Iran has been working to develop its own stock of 3.5 percent enriched uranium to 20 percent, which it says it needs for research and medical purposes.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.