Ali Akbar Salehi

Ali Akbar Salehi, caretaker of Iran’s foreign ministry announced that now Iran has the capacity to produceboth nuclear fuel plates and rods.

In an interview with Fars news agency, Salehi said today: "We have created a very advanced factory for the production of nuclear plates in Esfahan and with the completion of this plant, we are now amongst the few countries that produce both fuel rods and plates. In effect, actions of Western Countries pushed us toward this achievement."

He added: "What we say is based on truth and reality. We are not involved in any exaggeration or deceit. They are the ones that refuse to believe that Iran has no other intention save developing nuclear technology for peaceful ends."

Last year Salehi had said that Iran would be able to produce these fuel plates within months; however, Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister denied the veracity of Iran’s claims regarding developments in its nuclear capabilities.

Ali Akbar Salehi also told Fars news agency that Iran has currently produced about 40kg of 20 percent enriched uranium and by the end of next summer, it will be injected into Tehran’s research reactor core.

Tehran nuclear reactor is reportedly used for production of medical isotopes. It was built by the Americans in 1967 and its fuel was provided by the US until the 1979 Revolution and since then by Argentina.

The US and the West say Iran may be trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran consistently denies this claim and has recently invited representatives from the EU and the Group of 77 to visit its nuclear facilities.

While non-aligned countries and China have accepted the invitation, Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief has turned down the offer. The US has also dismissed the significance of Iran’s invitation in which the Americans were not included.

Iran’s invitation to its nuclear facilities comes at the threshold of its next round of nuclear talks with the G5+1 representatives which will take place in Istanbul.