Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday inaugurated a new facility producing uranium fuel for a planned heavy-water nuclear reactor. The West fears the reactor could eventually be used for producing a nuclear weapon.
Ahmadinejad announced the plant's opening during a ceremony in the central city of Isfahan. The plant will produce pellets of uranium oxide to fuel the heavy-water research reactor, which is scheduled to be completed in 2009 or 2010.
Iran denies any intention to build a nuclear weapon. The US and its allies have expressed concerns Iran could reprocess spent fuel from the heavy-water reactor into plutonium for building a warhead.
The process is distinct from uranium enrichment, which produces fuel for a light-water reactor. Highly enriched uranium can be used to build a warhead as well. Iran's enrichment program presents more immediate concerns to the West than the hard-water reactor, because it is far more advanced.