Iran unveils latest nuclear achievements (Second Lead)

February 15th, 2012 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Tehran, Feb 15 (IANS) At a ceremony to unveil the country’s latest nuclear achievements, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — clad in a white lab coat — Wednesday fed home-made nuclear fuel rods into the core of a research reactor in the capital, Press TV reported.

The state TV broadcast live the ceremony in which Ahmadinejad was briefed about the process of production and performance as he fed a nuclear rod into the reactor.

Xinhua said Tehran also showed other “achievements” in the country’s nuclear technology, including radioactive medicines for the treatment of cancer.

The presidential website said: “Some new and worthwhile achievements of the country’s nuclear scientists in the field of atomic energy will be unveiled … we will display the extraordinary capability of Iranian young scientists and their nuclear knowledge to the world.”

CNN said a new generation of advanced centrifuges and an intent to start production of yellowcake, a material used in enriching uranium, were also announced.

The first Iran-made nuclear fuel rods were produced by the country’s scientists at the Natanz facility in central Iran.

The Tehran research centre is used primarily for medical purposes. It creates radio isotopes used for cancer treatment, CNN said citing Press TV.

Around 850,000 cancer patients in the country were in dire need of treatment.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran Fereydoun Abbasi were present at the ceremony.

Photos of assassinated nuclear scientists adorned the hall at Wednesday’s unveiling ceremony.

Abbasi said his country activated the new generation of centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear enrichment site Wednesday.

The move will, to a great degree, speed up the country’s uranium enrichment activities and is a strong response to the Western hostilities, he said.

Ali Bagheri, deputy chief of Iran’s national security council, told RIA Novosti that Tehran produced the nuclear fuel rods domestically as “western countries were unwilling to help”.

Western nations accuse Iran of secretly working to build nuclear weapons. Iran vehemently denies the charges, saying its nuclear programme is confined to production of peaceful atomic energy.

The Fars news agency said the country launched “a cascade of domestically-made uranium enrichment centrifuges” of the latest generation at a nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, had said in 2009 that the country planned to install a total of 50,000 enrichment centrifuges by 2014, RIA Novosti reported.

A report by the UN nuclear watchdog found in November “credible” information that Tehran has carried out work toward nuclear weapons — including tests of possible bomb components.

Iran responded to the International Atomic Energy Agency report by calling it a fabrication aimed at bolstering US accusations that Iran was working towards a bomb.

“We will never ever suspend our enrichment,” Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s permanent envoy to the IAEA, said in November.

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