World News

Iran to make medical reactor fuel in year - report

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said it would produce in a year the nuclear fuel needed for a medical reactor in Tehran, a news agency reported on Monday, days after the Islamic state began loading fuel into its first atomic power plant.

Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran so far had produced 25 kg (55 lb) of uranium to a level of 20 percent purity for the Tehran reactor, the official Irna news agency quoted Salehi as saying in an interview with the country’s Arabic-language TV station, Al-Alam.

“We will produce all the fuel needed for the Tehran plant in one year from today,” Salehi said.

Earlier this month, Iran inaugurated its first nuclear power plant near the Gulf city of Bushehr. Russia designed and built the plant and will supply the needed fuel.

To ease nuclear proliferation concerns, Russia will take back spent rods that could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium.

Western countries fear Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons but Tehran rejects the accusation, saying its atomic activities are peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a interview earlier this month that Iran would stop higher-grade enrichment if it is assured of atomic fuel supplies for its research reactor.

Iran in February started enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent from about 3.5 percent previously, heightening fears that it was moving closer to weapons-grade levels.

Editing by Michael Roddy