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article imageIran says it has developed nuclear fuel, U.S. says claims hyped

By Tim Sandle     Feb 15, 2012 in World
Tehran - Iran says it has manufactured its own "domestically made" nuclear fuel. The country says the development is purely about energy, but the IAEA has suspicions the latest development is another step toward a nuclear weapons program.
At a special event broadcast on state television, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran has, for the first time, manufactured its own nuclear fuel through uranium enrichment. The event took place at a nuclear reactor at Natanz, north or Tehran, the BBC reports.
During his broadcast on the official IRNA news agency, Ahmadinejad was seen inserting a fuel rod into a reactor.
Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator, Ali Baqeri, was quoted on Sky News as saying:
“We began enriching uranium to 20 percent in order to make fuel rods because Western countries are not ready to help us. And for the first time, fuel rods produced by Iranian scientists will be installed in the presence of the Islamic Republic's president in Tehran's research reactor on Wednesday.”
However, according to AFP, the U.S. dismissed Iran's claim it successfully produced nuclear fuel, saying Iran is feeling the mounting international pressure and sanctions.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad criticised international attempts to stop Iran's nuclear developments. “The era of bullying nations has past, "the Daily Mail quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. "The arrogant powers cannot monopolise nuclear technology. They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed. Our nuclear path will continue.”
According to AFP, Ahmadinejad said 3,000 more centrifuges were added to Iran's uranium enrichment effort, and officials said new-generation, high-capacity centrifuges had been installed in Iran's Natanz facility.
With Iran's announcement today, several nations along with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) worry Iran’s nuclear strategy is not simply designed to produce energy, but also to produce nuclear weapons. According to CNN, an IAEA report surmised there was “credible" information Tehran carried out studies toward developing nuclear weapons. This report has led to European and U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, with a complete European ban scheduled to begin in the summer.
Iran says it has been forced to accelerate its nuclear fuel program because of oil sanctions.
The situation at the moment appears to be one of stalemate. Reports show recent talks between world powers and Iran failed in January 2011 because of Iran's refusal to suspend its sensitive uranium enrichment work, as demanded by several U.N. resolutions and major powers.
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