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Terrorism & Security

Iran: We can make our own 'yellowcake' uranium now

One day before starting a new round of talks with world powers in Geneva, Iran announced Sunday that it had mined its own uranium to be used to make nuclear energy – or nuclear weapons.

By Taylor BarnesCorrespondent / December 5, 2010

Chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi cuts a ribbon during a ceremony to take delivery of locally produced yellowcake, a uranium concentrate powder, at the UCF plant in Isfahan 414 kilometres (257 miles) south of Tehran December 5, 2010.

HO/Fars News/Reuters

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Iran announced on Sunday that its entire nuclear fuel cycle is now self-sufficient.

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With two-day talks beginning in Geneva tomorrow between six world powers and Iran, Iranian leaders say they want to deliver the message that the nuclear program will progress even with international sanctions.

Iran’s top atomic chief and vice president Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sunday that for the first time the Islamic Republic had delivered uranium mined domestically to an Iranian processing unit.

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Iran had bought “yellowcake,” uranium concentrate powder, from South Africa in the 1970s. But Reuters notes that analysts in the West say Iran may be close to depleting this supply.

"The West had counted on the possibility of us being in trouble over raw material but today we had the first batch of yellowcake from Gachin mine sent to Isfahan [conversion] facility," Salehi said on state TV, Agence France-Press reports.

"No matter how much effort they put into their sanctions ... our nuclear activities will proceed and they will witness greater achievements in the future," he said, according to the Associated Press.

The US and many Western powers accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon.

Iran, for its part, maintains that it wants nuclear fuel for civilian energy and medical purposes. Uranium enriched to low grades is used in nuclear reactors for fuel, while uranium enriched further can be used for an atomic bomb. According to Salehi, the whole delivery of the yellowcake was done under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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