DUBAI/VIENNA: Iran said yesterday operations had begun at two uranium mines and a milling plant and that Western opposition would not slow its nuclear work, days after talks with world powers made no breakthrough.
Marking its annual National Nuclear Technology Day, Iran also said it would continue to need higher-grade enriched uranium — the part of its atomic activity that most worries the West — to fuel additional research reactors it plans to build.The US and its allies want Iran to stop refining uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent as it represents a relatively short technical step away from potential bomb material. Iran says it uses it to produce medical isotopes.
“We have started the design of a 10-megawatt reactor and the process for determining the location is under way,” Iranian atomic energy chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani said, ISNA news agency reported. Construction may start this year, he added.Iran has made similar statements before but his comments underlined its continued defiance of international demands to curb its disputed uranium enrichment program, which can have both civilian and military purposes.
Talks between Iran and six world powers held in Kazakhstan last week failed to make progress in resolving a decade-old dispute that threatens to trigger a new war in the Mideast.Western nations have “tried their utmost to prevent Iran from going nuclear, but Iran has gone nuclear,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech.“They caused restrictions and issued threats, thinking that the Iranian nation cannot achieve nuclear energy … The best way for you is to cooperate with Iran,” he said.
IRNA said Iran had opened the Sag hand 1 and 2 mines in the central province of Yazd and a uranium yellow cake plant in the town of Ardakan in the same region.Yellow cake can be further processed into enriched uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants, Iran’s stated aim, or to provide material for atomic bombs if refined much more, which the West fears may be the Islamic Republic’s ultimate goal.
The office of European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton — who represents the United States, Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France in dealings with Iran — said it was no surprise Iran made such announcements on its nuclear day.“We urge Iran to bring its nuclear activities into compliance with its international obligations,” her spokesman Michael Mann said.The Ardakan plant will handle the ore from Saghand and can produce 60 tons of yellow cake annually, IRNA said. – ArabNews