Ahmadinejad Unveils Three New Iran Nuclear Projects

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad witnesses insertion of Iran's first home-made nuclear fuel rods into a medical reactor in Tehran.

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday inaugurated three new nuclear projects, in a ceremony that was broadcast live on state television network IRIB.

"This is another huge step in Iran's nuclear technology and this path should be decisively continued, and all the shouting, threats and intimidations by the West should be ignored," Ahmadinejad said at the ceremony.

At the Iranian Atomic Organization in Tehran, Ahmadinejad witnessed the insertion of the country's first domestically made nuclear fuel rods into a medical reactor.

Also present at the Tehran ceremony were Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi and nuclear chief Mohammad Abbasi.

The president then opened, via a video conference link, two other projects in the Natanz plant in central Iran.

That plant will now be able to enrich uranium to 20 percent and will also use a new type of centrifuge, capable of three times higher enrichment speeds than previous models.

Ahmadinejad said the new nuclear achievements were gained despite the fierce opposition by the West to technological progress in Iran. "The West wants ... to dictate their will and expects us to blindly sign what they want, but this will never happen," he said.

He cited as another achievement the increase of the number of centrifuges in the Natanz plant from 6,000 to 9,000.

Iran initially wanted the fuel for the Tehran reactor from abroad, and although the aim was to cure diseases such as cancer, the fuel was not provided, Ahmadinejad said.

"The Western rejection forced us to make both the 20-percent enrichment and the fuel rods by themselves, which we succeeded to do in less than two years," he said.

While the West regarded Iran's nuclear technology solely as a project for making atomic bombs, Ahmadinejad said it was not working on a secret weapons program.

The Tehran reactor was established in 1967, and the fuel was initially provided by Argentina, but this stopped a few years back. The fuel was then to be provided by Russia and France, but a deal struck in October 2009 failed. Iran started making the fuel by first enriching uranium to 20 per cent and then turning it into fuel rods.

Enriched uranium is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and atomic weapons.

Ahmadinejad at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in 2008.Credit: AP

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