TEHRAN, Iran — Iran delivered a resolute message Sunday on the eve of talks with six world powers: We're mining our own uranium now, so forget about stopping our nuclear ambitions.
The Islamic Republic said it has produced its first batch of locally mined uranium ore for enrichment, making it independent of foreign countries for a process the West fears is geared toward producing nuclear arms.
No matter the U.N. sanctions over the program, "our nuclear activities will proceed and they will witness greater achievements in the future," Iranian nuclear chief Ali Salehi told state-run Press TV.
Western officials downplayed the announcement, saying it had been expected and that Iran did not have enough ore to maintain the large-scale enrichment program that Tehran says it is building as a source of fuel for an envisaged network of nuclear reactors.
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Sunday's announcement makes clear that Iran does not consider uranium enrichment to be up for discussion at the talks beginning today in Geneva.