BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Sunday, 9 February, 2003, 22:39 GMT
Iran mining uranium for fuel
Aerial view of Iran's first nuclear reactor (Bushehr)
Iran's nuclear industry is rapidly taking shape
Iran has its own deposits of uranium and has begun extraction to produce nuclear fuel, President Mohammad Khatami has announced.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
We need to complete the circle from discovering uranium to managing remaining spent fuel

Mohammad Khatami
Iranian president
The Islamic Republic's leader said the uranium was being mined in the Savand area, 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the central city of Yazd, and processing facilities had been set up in the central cities of Isfahan and Kashan.

The surprise announcement is certain to alarm the United States, which has already expressed concern over Russia supplying nuclear technology to Iran, described by President Bush only last year as part of an "axis of evil".

Tehran says it is pursuing a nuclear programme for energy production only, but the US last year produced satellite photographs of Iranian sites it says could be used for producing nuclear weapons.

Spent fuel

"Iran has discovered reserves and extracted uranium," said President Khatami on national television.

"We are determined to use nuclear technology for civilian purposes."

Atomic ambitions
First nuclear plant comes online by summer 2004
Has signed up to the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty
Can now supply its own power stations with nuclear fuel
He also appeared to suggest that Iran wished to retain spent nuclear fuel - a component in the production of nuclear weapons - from its future power plants.

Russia has in the past reassured the US that any fuel supplied to Iran would be returned when spent.

"If we need to produce electricity from our nuclear power plants, we need to complete the circle from discovering uranium to managing remaining spent fuel," President Khatami said.

"The government is determined to complete that circle."

Mr Khatami did not say if the announcement of Iran's own uranium deposits undercut the deal with Moscow to receive Russian nuclear fuel.

Nuclear inspection

Iran says it needs nuclear energy to help supply the electricity needs of its 65 million people, but Washington has suggested that the country's vast existing oil and gas resources are already adequate.

Satellite image of Arak site
The US believes Iran's new facilities could produce nuclear weapons
To alleviate international concern over its nuclear programme, Iran has invited inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the two sites identified by the US as suspect - Nantanz and Arak - on 25 February.

"We are ready to receive the IAEA inspectors for them to examine our activities and to disprove the lies pronounced by others against the Islamic Republic," President Khatami said.

To date, Iran has only one, Russian-built reactor, near the south-western port of Bushehr, which is due to be commissioned either in late 2003 or the early summer of 2004. The contract is worth about $800m to Moscow.

Missile advance

In a separate announcement on Sunday, Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said that Iran had, for the first time, developed the capacity for producing composite solid fuels for its missiles.

"This solid fuel could be used for any kind of missile," he said at the launch of a manufacturing plant.

Iran already produces medium-range missiles, anti-tank missiles, air-to-surface missiles and surface-to-surface guided missiles which use composite solid fuel.

See also:

26 Dec 02 | Middle East
14 Dec 02 | Middle East
16 Aug 02 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes