Displaying defiance against toughening western sanctions,Iran on Wednesday proclaimed two major advances in its nuclear programme,including new centrifuges able to enrich uranium much faster.
The countrys official IRNA news agency reported that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad oversaw the insertion of the first domestically made Iranian fuel rod into a research reactor in northern Tehran.
Separately,the semi-official Fars agency reported that a new generation of Iranian centrifuges had been installed and had gone into operation at the countrys main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in central Iran.
Approximately 6,000 centrifuges were working,3,000 have been added to that number. There are 9,000, Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast on state TV. The era of bullying nations has passed. The arrogant powers cannot monopolise nuclear technology. They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed, he said.
However,Irans Arabic-language Al Alam television said the government had handed a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressing readiness to hold new talks over its nuclear programme in a constructive way.
In a further show of resistance,state media reported Iran was taking steps to cut oil exports to six European countries in retaliation for new European Union sanctions,including a ban on Iranian oil.