TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran now controls the entire cycle for producing nuclear fuel with the opening of a new facility to produce uranium pellets, the Iranian president announced on Saturday.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced several times in the past that Iran has the knowledge necessary to enrich uranium ore into fuel pellets, but with the opening of the new facility, the Islamic republic says it now has the capability.
Speaking on state television Saturday, Ahmadinejad said the next step for Iran is to achieve proficiency in building nuclear power plants without help from foreign countries.
Iran is building a nuclear power plant with Russia in Bushehr, but the uranium fuel to power it is imported. Tehran also plans to build a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in Darkhovin, in the southwestern Khuzestan province, which it will power with its own fuel.
The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is merely geared towards power generation.