Iranian-made nuclear fuel rods were loaded into the the core of the Tehran research reactor on Wednesday, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looked on.
At the same time, the Natanz nuclear facility was outfitted with the latest generation of centrifuges, which are now in operation.
Iranian media are reporting on what was hailed as a major scientific advancement for the Islamic Republic. The use of 20-percent-enriched uranium rods is being called a step toward completion of the "peaceful nuclear course" the country is following. Western countries, however, are suspicious of Iran's uranium-enrichment activities.
Recently, during celebrations of the 33rd anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, Ahmadinejad had announced that a new advancement in the nuclear field would soon be unveiled.
Ria Novosti quoted the Deputy Head of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, saying that Iran produced the 20-percent-enriched fuel rods because Western countries had refused to assist Iran.
He added that the Ferdoo nuclear facility has also begun operation under the inspection of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Gill Todor, a spokesman for the IAEA, had said in an email sent in January that "all nuclear material in the facility remains under the agency's containment and surveillance."
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