Middle East

Iran 'produces own raw uranium'

Uranium yellowcake
Image caption Iran was believed to be running low on its stock of yellowcake, originally imported in the 1970s

Iran says it has delivered its first domestically produced raw uranium, or yellowcake, to a plant that can make it ready for enrichment.

The statement, from Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi, comes the day before talks between Iran and world powers over its nuclear programme.

Enriched uranium can be used for fuel in reactors or made into nuclear bombs.

The US and its allies believe Iran may be trying to produce nuclear weapons, a claim denied by Iran.

Tehran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful, civilian purposes.

"The West had counted on the possibility of us being in trouble over raw material but today we had the first batch of yellowcake from Gachin mine sent to Isfahan (conversion) facility," Mr Salehi said on state television.

Iran was believed to be running low on its stock of yellowcake, originally imported from South Africa in the 1970s.

The claim comes ahead of talks in Geneva on Monday between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Russia, China, France and Britain - and Germany.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Iran to enter the talks in good faith and with "a much more sober assessment of what isolation means", given successive rounds of UN sanctions.

The sanctions have been levelled at Iran's failure to comply with UN Security Council resolutions ordering it to stop uranium enrichment.

The Security Council has said that until Iran's peaceful intentions can be fully established, it should stop enrichment and other nuclear activities.

Iran says that as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has the right to enrich uranium for fuel for civil nuclear power.

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