BEIRUT

Middle East

Report: Iran opens uranium-conversion plant

A handout picture of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shaking hands with Yukiya Aman, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during a meeting in Tehran on August 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO/IRANIAN PRESIDENCY WEBSITE/HO/MOHAMMAD BERNO

TEHRAN: Iran inaugurated a new plant Saturday to convert a type of uranium into a material that cannot be used to make nuclear weapons as part of its interim atomic deal with world powers, its official news agency reported.

The report by IRNA quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's nuclear agency, saying that the plant will convert uranium hexafluoride, which can be used to make nuclear weapons and fuel. It will become uranium dioxide, which can only be used in nuclear reactors, he said.

"The process has begun and we have implemented our commitment," Salehi was quoted as saying.

The plant is located in central Iranian city of Isfahan, the report said. Iran has a nuclear power plant in southern port of Bushehr that went online in 2011.

In November, Iran accepted to cap its uranium enrichment in return for the easing of some sanctions by the West. Iran and world powers now are negotiating terms of a final deal, which faces a November deadline.

The West fears Iran's nuclear program could allow it to build atomic weapons. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes, like power generation and medical research.

 

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