Iran claims it has produced its first nuclear fuel bar, an accomplishment that Western experts estimated it could not achieve.

The government-controlled IRIB television website reported Sunday that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran manufactured and tested “successfully” the sample fuel bar, made of uranium. Nuclear fuel rods contain pellets of enriched uranium that provide fuel for nuclear power plants, and it is not known if the nuclear rod produced by Iran contained pellets.

Iran said that the fuel rod was placed into the core of its Tehran Research Reactor for further examination. It added, “Iran’s nuclear experts have been able to use the Tehran research reactor to meet the country’s pharmaceutical needs particularly those for special diseases treatment and fighting the inhuman anti-Iran sanctions by the West.”

The semi-officials Fars News Agency stated, “The fuel rod with 1,500 mw/h of radioactivity has passed neutron and non-leakage tests successfully and is now under study for longer duration of radioactivity. The achievement came while the Western states refrained from supplying nuclear fuel to the research reactor in a violation of their NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) undertakings.

“Iranian experts produced the fuel rod for the Tehran research reactor in December after enriching uranium to the purity level of 20 eprcentand it took them almost a month to carry out the initial tests."

Iran continues to deny that it has any intentions of using its nuclear achievement to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

Western powers and Israel reject the claim, and Iran has refused to allow inspections of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations.

President Barack Obama on Saturday signed a law that allows him to impose harsher sanctions on countries that deal with Iran’s energy sector and central bank, but he is not likely to use the sanctions before giving other countries time to try to disconnect from Iran.

Iran’s latest claim may not be coincidental. It came a day after it proposed that the world’s major powers hold a new round of talks on its nuclear program.

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