Ahmadinejad inaugurates Iran’s first nuclear fuel plant

April 9th, 2009 - 10:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Isfahan (Iran), April 9 (DPA) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Thursday inaugurated the country’s first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant (FMP) located near this central Iranian city.
The FMP, reportedly based solely on work by Iranian experts, is to provide the Arak 40-megawatt research reactor with fuel, producing nuclear fuel tablets, rods and assemblies for the plant, which is to be launched within the next two or three years.

Iran says that with the launch of the FMP, it has de-facto mastered the final stage of the nuclear fuel production process.

Ahmadinejad opened the plant on Iran’s so-called Nuclear Day.

He is also to inspect the Natanz uranium enrichment plant near Isfahan, where 6,000 centrifuges are operative and according to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, at least 4,000 more are planned to be installed during the current year.

Isfahan’s FMP can also produce nuclear fuel assemblies for the Bushehr nuclear power plant that is a joint project with Russia with its first phase scheduled to be completed later this year.

The FMP in Isfahan will convert enriched uranium hexafluoride into uranium dioxide (UO2) powder, which will later be processed into pellet form, Tehran’s Press TV said on its website.

The pellets will then be stacked into tubes of corrosion-resistant metal alloy called fuel rods. The finished fuel rods will be assembled together to build up the nuclear fuel core of a power reactor.

Tehran says its nuclear programmes are only for civil and peaceful purposes, but the West fears that Iran might use the same technology for making nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad has several times said that Iran would be ready for negotiations with the West, however not for following international demands of suspending the controversial nuclear enrichment but for removing concerns over alleged secret military programmes.

On Wednesday, the US said it would join other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany in talks with Iran over its nuclear activities, indicating a significant shift from former president George W. Bush’s stand that US participation in any talks with Iran would depend on its suspension of all nuclear work.

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