Iran reveals nuclear boost ahead of talks
Iran said for the first time yesterday that it had produced a batch of uranium yellowcake -- the raw material for atomic weapons -- as it sought to bolster its position before today's international talks on its nuclear programme.
The production of yellowcake allows Iran to continue enriching stockpiles of the material into fuel for nuclear power stations.
The announcement came as Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy representative, travelled to Geneva, Switzerland, to hold negotiations with Saeed Jalili, Tehran's chief nuclear envoy, on behalf of Germany and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The first formal talks with the six countries since the UN imposed further sanctions on Iran in May were supposed to have concentrated on the country's nuclear activities. But Iranian diplomats have insisted instead on discussions about the agenda, meaning the talks will be drawn out.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran would not give up its nuclear ambitions but instead offered co-operation. However, Iran's foreign minister refused to respond to US overtures on the eve of talks. Manouchehr Mottaki said the West was trying to impose "scientific apartheid" by depriving Iran of its "nuclear rights".
Mr Mottaki told the Manama Dialogue, a conference in Bahrain organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, that the presence of "foreign powers" was the cause of tension in the region.
However, many Gulf delegates continued to criticise Iran's "destabilising" role in the region, accusing the country of backing opposition movements.
Some have been revealed in the WikiLeaks disclosures to have urged the US to take military action against Iran. (© Daily Telegraph, London)