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Iran opens nuclear fuel-making plant

IRAN declared fresh progress in its nuclear program yesterday, inaugurating its first nuclear fuel-production plant and announcing it had tested more advanced equipment for enriching uranium.

The moves, announced a day after the United States and five other powers said they would invite Tehran for talks on in its nuclear program, are likely to revive Western concerns that the country aims to develop nuclear bombs under the cover of a civilian program.

Tehran says it only aims to generate electricity so it can export more of its oil.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the fuel-manufacturing plant near Isfahan in central Iran, a development that suggests the country had mastered all stages of nuclear fuel production.

Vajihollah Asadi, a manager at the fuel-manufacturing plant, said it was "100 percent" Iranian and that it would produce fuel for Iran's Arak heavy water reactor.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said Iran was now running 7,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges.


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