January 1, 2006

Iran develops uranium separation machinery

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Sunday it had developed
machinery to separate uranium from its ore, part of the Islamic
state's ongoing drive to become self-sufficient in nuclear

The mixer-settler machinery was developed by Iran's Atomic
Energy Organization (IAEO), state television said.

"Unfortunately, because of the problems that exist, it was
not possible for us to buy this machine from abroad and we had
to build it domestically. Fortunately, we succeeded," an
unidentified IAEO official said.

Iran's efforts to build a full nuclear fuel cycle has
caused alarm in the West which fears Tehran could use the
technology to build atomic weapons. Iran says it only wants to
use its nuclear facilities to generate electricity.

In August Iran announced another breakthrough in nuclear
technology by using biotechnology to produce larger and cheaper
quantities of uranium oxide, or yellow cake, from uranium ore.

Yellowcake is processed and then enriched to produce
nuclear reactor fuel or, if highly enriched, bomb-grade