(JTA) — Iran has begun loading domestically made nuclear fuel rods into a research reactor in Tehran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad placed the first Iranian-produced rod into the reactor on Wednesday, according to the official government IRNA news agency.
The rods were produced after Iran failed to come to an agreement with Western nations on purchasing nuclear fuel for the reactor, which is used for nuclear medical treatment.
Iran also announced Wednesday that its Natanz uranium enrichment plant was using domestically manufactured centrifuges with higher speed and higher production capacity.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful, domestic uses, while the West is concerned that it is working to create a nuclear weapon. The West has placed tough sanctions on Iran as it tries to get access to the facilities in order to monitor Iran’s nuclear program, while Israel reportedly has not ruled out a strike on the country’s nuclear production sites.
Also Wednesday, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reportedly received a letter from Iran in response to her invitation to open new international nuclear talks. Ashton’s spokeswoman confirmed that Ashton received a letter from Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Laura Rozen’s The Envoy blog at Yahoo News reported Wednesday.
The blog did not report Iran’s response to the invitation.
Dennis Ross, Obama’s former adviser on Iran, said in an Op-Ed in The New York Times on Wednesday that in the face of crippling sanctions, Iran is ready to return to nuclear negotiations.