In a move that has sent shock waves through the US, Israel and their allies, Iran has showcased its domestically developed fuel rods. Fuel rods are tube metals having low-enriched uranium pellets. The rod is inserted into the core reactor which then goes operational.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has inserted the first rod into the reactor, according to footage shown on Iran's English language Press TV. The fuel rods were developed at the nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Isfahan in Central Iran.
"The era of bullying nations has passed. The arrogant powers cannot monopolise nuclear technology. They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in the television broadcast.
With the development of the domestically manufactured fuel rods, Iran has reached the final step in the full circle of nuclear fuel, from extracting uranium ore to producing the finished rod, the Associated Press reported, quoting IRNA, Iran's official news agency.
Domestically-produced fuel rods will further boost Iran's nuclear programme which was believed to be facing a shortage of imported stocks.
A major uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in Central Iran had been operational with domestically-developed new generation centrifuges, according to a report from Iran's Fars news Agency.
Centrifuges are machines that are used to enrich uranium. If the uranium is enriched up to 90 per cent purity, it can be used to develop nuclear war head. Ahmadijenad has claimed that the fourth generation centrifuges can enrich uranium three times faster than earlier.
Though Iran claims that its nuclear programme is merely for domestic purposes like power generation and medical purposes, countries like Israel, US and their allies suspect it as a step towards creating nuclear bombs.
Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has termed Iran's nuclear announcements and its nuclear ambition as a threat to world peace.
Israel believes that sanctions would only give time to Iran to cover up its nuclear programme, thereby taking it out of the Israeli military's strike reach. On the other hand, the US is in favour of giving more time for the sanctions to work instead of a sudden military action.
In a related development, Iran denied reports that it had plans to cut oil supplies to the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal, in a retaliatory action to the recent European Union sanctions.
Iran has expressed its willingness to return to talks with world leaders including Germany on its nuclear programme which Israel and many in the West see as a ploy to buy more time.