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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tehran's top nuclear official says Iran has mastered fuel cycle

RIA Novosti

16:53 05/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's top nuclear energy official said in a television interview on Monday that the Islamic Republic has now mastered the full nuclear fuel cycle.

"We can enrich uranium, we can process uranium, we can produce fuel rods, we can mine uranium, we can deal with spent fuel, which proves we have a full fuel cycle," Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization and the country's vice president, told IRI channel.

Iran has been in the center of a protracted international dispute over its nuclear program. It has the right to the full nuclear fuel cycle if used for civilian purposes, but Western nations fear the program could lead to the production of weapons-grade material.

Salehi said Iran is able to enrich uranium to a 20% concentration of uranium-235 for its research reactor near Tehran if no deal to buy low-enriched uranium is reached with its partners.

UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei was reported to have said that experts would meet in Vienna on October 19 to discuss a deal for Russia to take Iran's processed uranium and enrich it.

Iran and six world powers involved in the nuclear dispute met in Switzerland last week. The meeting took place after news of Iran's second uranium enrichment facility led to calls for tougher sanctions against Tehran.

Iran is under three rounds of UN sanctions for refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Tehran insists it needs nuclear technology for power generation.

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