EXP-IRAN-NUKES-NYT 04-09 Web
Nuclear fuel plant launched
Iran inaugurated its first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant on Thursday and said it had increased its capability to enrich uranium. The developments came a day after the United States said it would participate in talks with Iran and other nations over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, inaugurated the plant in the central city of Isfahan as Iran celebrated National Nuclear Day, begun three years ago when Iran announced for the first time that it had succeeded in enriching uranium. The plant is now producing nuclear fuel for the country’s 40-megawatt research reactor in Arak. The uranium for Arak requires no enrichment before engineers turn it into fuel rods, setting it apart from most reactors.
In February, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna reported that the Isfahan plant was already making fuel even before the plant’s formal dedication.
The National Nuclear Day activities also brought a new disclosure: Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said Iran had increased the number of its centrifuges to 7,000. In February, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear regulator, had put the number at 5,600.
Ahmadinejad said during a speech broadcast on national television that Iran had achieved its nuclear progress under "the worst political and psychological pressure, even the threat of military invasion."
"But now the situation has changed in the world," he said. "Today the whole world knows that Iranian people seek justice and they will pursue their goals despite their enemies’ pressure."