Iran plans to produce nuclear reactor fuel for its research reactor in Tehran by September 2011, Iranian media quoted the country's nuclear chief as saying on Tuesday.
Iranian officials said in February that the country had started enriching uranium to 20% for the Tehran reactor, which produces medical isotopes. The announcement was made as negotiations on the IAEA-proposed nuclear fuel swap deal reached a deadlock.
"Production of the 20%-enriched fuel was a firm response to the West. Iran currently possesses a large workshop [to produce] 20% fuel," Press TV quoted Salehi as saying.
He said that the country's nuclear enrichment facilities have already produced first test samples of 20%-enriched fuel. Western powers, however, say Iran does not have the technology to enrich uranium to 20%.
ISNA news agency quoted Salehi as saying that Iran would make an announcement on some "developments in Iran's nuclear program" shortly after the Iran Six meeting expected in December.
The Iran Six, which comprises Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany, has been trying since 2003 to convince Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program and to alleviate concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
Salehi also dismissed media rumors that the Islamic Republic had halted is uranium enrichment activities in Natanz due to technical problems, IRNA reported.
The nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz experienced major technical problems, which forced thousands of centrifuges to temporarily shut down, Western media earlier reported, citing diplomatic sources.
U.S. and German cyber-security experts have earlier pointed out that Natanz was the main target of the Stuxnet computer virus, which attacked the Bushehr NPP in Iran and was later reported to infect computers in India, Indonesia and the United States.
"Fortunately, Stuxnet has faced a deadlock and enemies' wishes and objectives did not come true," ISNA quoted Salehi as saying.
Western powers suspect Iran of building nuclear weapons under the guise of a peaceful nuclear program, an accusation Tehran strongly denies.
Iran's top nuclear official said in October that the Islamic Republic currently possesses 30 kg of 20%-enriched uranium continues to increase its nuclear fuel reserves. He also said that the country was seeking to reach self-sufficiency in uranium mining in the next 7-8 years.
MOSCOW, November 23 (RIA Novosti)