Iran has discovered an unexpectedly high reserve of uranium and will soon begin extracting the radioactive element at a new mine, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Saturday.
The comments cast doubt on previous assessments from some Western analysts who said the country had a low supply and sooner or later would need to import uranium, the raw material needed for its nuclear program.
Any indication Iran could become more self-sufficient will be closely watched by world powers, which reached a landmark deal with Tehran in July over its program. They had feared the nuclear activities were aimed at acquiring the capability to produce atomic weapons – something denied by Tehran.
“I cannot announce (the level of) Iran’s uranium mine reserves. The important thing is that before aerial prospecting for uranium ores we were not too optimistic, but the new discoveries have made us confident about our reserves,” Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.