Iran has produced its first nuclear fuel rod, state-run news agencies reported, as the country offered to restart talks with the West on its atomic program.
The domestically made rod was inserted into the core of Tehranâ€™s atomic research reactor after performance tests, the semi-official
Fars News Agency reported, citing the countryâ€™s atomic energy agency. According to Mehr news agency, the Tehran reactor produces radioisotopes for cancer treatment, Nuclear fuel rods contain pellets of enriched uranium that provide fuel for nuclear power plants.
In January 2008, Fars reported that Iran was able to produce everything it needs for the nuclear fuel cycle, making its nuclear program self-sufficient. But it was not clear that Tehran actually had the technology to turn enriched uranium into fuel rods.
Iran has repeatedly insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian energy purposes only. But it has rebuffed repeated demands to halt its production of enriched uranium, and a November 8 report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog found “credible” information that Tehran has carried out work toward nuclear weapons — including tests of possible bomb components.
The U.S. and allies are increasing pressure on Iran to halt what they say may be a covert nuclear weapons program. Sanctions signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 31 aim to deter dealings with the Iranian central bank, and the European Union is considering a ban on imports of oil from Iran, the worldâ€™s third-largest oil exporter.