Ahmadinejad at nuclear ceremony - Reuters - April 9, 2011
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he speaks at a ceremony to mark the fifth National Day of Nuclear Technology, in Tehran April 9, 2011 Photo by Reuters
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Iran marked its National Nuclear Technology Day on Saturday, but unlike previous years, did not announce any new nuclear achievements.

The official ceremony at the Iranian Atomic Organization was attended by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior Iranian officials.

During last year's ceremony, Ahmadinejad unveiled a new generation of nuclear centrifuges made in Iran.

This year however the Iranian president simply praised the past achievements of local nuclear scientists and called on them to continue their work.

"The scientists should continue faster along this path and realize all their potential," Ahmadinejad said at the ceremony at the Iranian Atomic Organization in Tehran.

"All experts should try to turn Iran into a base for nuclear technology," the president added.

On Friday, fuel was reloaded into the reactor of the Bushehr nuclear plant, built by Russian contractor Atomstroyexport. But even that development received scant attention in state-controlled media.

In February, workers at the Bushehr plant removed all 163 fuel rods, reportedly upon the advice of Russian experts. Speculation has arisen that the problem was caused by the Stuxnet computer worm, which attacked Iran's nuclear program last year. Tehran denied the reports.

The unloading of the fuel once again delayed the full operation of the Bushehr plant, which was supposed to have been connected to the national electricity grid at the beginning of the year.

The first 1,000-megawatt reactor at the plant was initially supposed to be ready by the beginning of the new millennium but faced constant delays for both technical and political reasons.

Iran is mired in a dispute with the international community over its nuclear program, which many fear is being used to develop weapons.

Tehran insists it is only interested in producing electricity. The government aims to eventually add 20,000 megawatts of nuclear power to the country's network.