On the occasion of Iran’s celebration of Nuclear Day on April 9, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, had big news for the people of Iran; they announced major breakthroughs for Iran’s nuclear program. The Nuclear Day declaration was accompanied by much pomp and ceremony.
The first piece of news involved the production of nuclear fuel. The Iranian president stated: “Iran’s nuclear authorities have announced that the various cycles of nuclear fuel management are in our grasp in a comprehensive and domestically produced way.” The central point of his declaration was an assertion regarding Iran’s capability to produce uranium pellets. Once the low-enriched uranium is taken out of the centrifuges, they are placed into these pellets, which are then placed in bundles. They are then placed inside a heavily insulated pressurized chamber in the reactor, as part of the process to create heat to turn the turbines in order to produce energy.
According to Aghazadeh, “Seven thousand centrifuges had been installed in an underground nuclear facility in Natanz.” Ahmadinejad declared that Iran had tested two new types of centrifuges with “a capacity a few times higher than the existing centrifuges” currently in use.
The international community, especially Israel and France, were openly concerned by Ahmadinejad’s statement, which they interpreted as a sign of defiance. The most interesting reaction came from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said, “We don’t know what to believe about the Iranian program.” Clinton’s statement was a diplomatic way of saying, “We don’t believe the bombastic nuclear claims made by the Iranian president.” She would be absolutely right. The statements made in such a grandiose manner by Ahmadinejad and Aghazadeh may have been new to the people of Iran. But to the free world, they were old recycled news. The goal was to slap some cosmetic sheen on President Ahmadinejad’s election campaign.
Iran’s capability to produce uranium pellets is nothing new to the international community, which was made aware of this development back in February by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Iranian press, probably on the orders of the president and the supreme leader, did not print it at the time, so that it could be used to boost Ahmadinejad’s stature on Nuclear Day.
Furthermore, Ahmadinejad’s claim that Iran had tested two types of new centrifuges was a fact declared by the IAEA as long ago as September 2008; there was certainly nothing new about this announcement.