Iran says that its scientists have "tested the first nuclear fuel rod produced from uranium ore deposits inside the country."
The website of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization announced on January 1 that the rod “was inserted into the core of the Tehran research reactor in order to study how well it works.”
The Reuters news agency quoted the "Tehran Times" newspaper as saying: "This great achievement will perplex the West, because the Western countries had counted on a possible failure of Iran to produce nuclear fuel plates."
Iran said last month that it planned to insert domestically produced uranium fuel into the Tehran research reactor, which produces isotopes for medical purposes and currently runs on a nearly depleted stock of nuclear plates bought from Argentina in 1993.
The Tehran reactor requires uranium enriched to 20 percent, a far higher level than that needed for Iran's Russian-built nuclear power plant in Bushehr.
Western governments have expressed fears that Iran's real aim is to develop the capability to enrich uranium to the 90 percent level necessary for a nuclear bomb, an ambition Tehran strongly denies.
compiled from agency reports