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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Iran mines its own uranium

Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced on Sunday that Iran has succeeded in manufacturing its own 'yellowcake powder' which is the type of uranium that is used in making nuclear weapons.
Nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said the uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, was produced at the Gachin uranium mine in southern Iran and delivered to the uranium conversion facility in the central city of Isfahan for reprocessing.

Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the delivery was evidence that last week's assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist and the wounding of another in mysterious bombings will not hamper Iran's nuclear progress.

"Today, we witnessed the shipment of the first domestically produced yellowcake ... from Gachin mine to the Isfahan nuclear facility," said Salehi, whose comments were broadcast live on state television.

Iran is under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions that forbid the supply of nuclear materials to Tehran.

In 2009, Western nations claimed Iran was running out of raw uranium for its nuclear program. Tehran issued denials but, whatever the truth, has in recent years sought to extract uranium from its own deposits.

Iran acquired a considerable stock of yellowcake from South Africa in the 1970s under the former US-backed shah's original nuclear program, as well as unspecified quantities of yellowcake obtained from China long before the UN sanctions.

Salehi, who is also the country's vice president, said the step meant Iran was now self-sufficient over the entire nuclear fuel cycle — from extracting uranium ore to enriching it and producing nuclear fuel.

He added that the message to those meeting with Iran in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday was that they cannot stop Iran's nuclear work.
Meanwhile, Iran is helping Bolivia and Venezuela to build nuclear plants, which will put them right on the United States' doorstep.
Bolivian President Evo Morales went to Tehran on October 24 for a three-day state visit. During it, Iran offered to help Bolivia establish a nuclear plant, but the two presidents did not discuss anything concerning uranium. Bolivia apparently wants to do studies, analyses and investigations before being able to speak about the subject. The manager of the vanishing resources division of the Mining Ministry, Luis Alberto Echazu, said there is a uranium deposit in Cotaje, Potosi; and that small quantities of the radioactive element were extracted from there in 1974.

According an Israeli government report, Bolivia, along with Venezuela is supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program. The document stresses that Venezuela and Bolivia are violating the United Nations Security Council's economic sanctions with their aid to Iran, concluding that "Since Ahmadinejad's rise to power, Tehran has been promoting an aggressive policy aimed at bolstering its ties with Latin American countries with the declared goal of 'bringing America to its knees.'"

Less than two months ago, Tehran extended La Paz a credit line of about $287 million as development aid, particularly for mineral exploration and the textile industry. In 2007, Iranian President Ahmadinejad became the first Iranian chief executive to visit Bolivia. During the trip, the two countries signed an agreement on conducting joint projects worth $1.1 billion over the next five years. The amount of money is significant for a country like Bolivia, whose annual GDP barely reaches $9 billion.
And Iran has a date with the P 5+1 on Monday, so that we can stop sanctioning and start 'negotiating.' What could go wrong?

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