WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iran claimed to have uncovered new deposits of uranium ahead of talks with world powers on its nuclear capacity.
Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization, made the announcement at an annual conference on the nuclear industry, Reuters reported Sunday, quoting Iranian media.
Abbasi-Davani told the conference that Iran will put the raw uranium "to use in the near future."
Iran was believed to be running out of sources for raw uranium because of tough sanctions aimed at forcing the country to make its nuclear program more transparent.
Representatives of Iran are scheduled to meet this week in Kazakhstan with representatives of the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany to advance talks that would ease the sanctions in exchange for greater transparency. Iran denies Western claims that it has a nuclear weapons program and says its nuclear plans are peaceful.
The report by Reuters citing Irna, the Iranian news agency, also said that Iran had identified 16 new sites for nuclear power plants.
Separately, The Associated Press reported over the weekend that Iran claimed to have forced down an unmanned drone in its airspace.
Iran has made several such claims; they have not been verified.
The claims are significant because the ability to guide down the aircraft — as opposed to shooting them down — would suggest that Iran has the capability to breach the codes of the Western militaries that have launched the drones.