The Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA, reported that the nuclear fuel rod had “passed all physical and dimensional tests” and had been inserted into the core of Tehran’s research reactor.
Iran had said that it would be forced to manufacture the rods because it is barred from buying them on foreign markets. The tubes contain pellets of enriched uranium that provide fuel for nuclear reactors.
Tension has been growing between Iran and the West since a report by the United Nations nuclear inspection agency in November expressed serious concerns about a possible military dimension to the country’s nuclear program.
The United States and its allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear payloads for missiles. Tehran denies the charge, saying it needs the technology to generate electricity and produce radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.The Associated Press adds that the West had previously dismissed Iran's claims that it could create such a rod.
The announcement came one day after the Obama administration slapped new sanctions on Iran, a move that Tehran sharply criticized. It also took place on the day one Republican presidential candidate said he would order the bombing of Iran's nuclear sites if it continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions.