Iran announced two key nuclear-related projects on Tuesday that expand the country's ability to extract and process uranium, which can be enriched for reactor fuel but also potentially for atomic weapons.
The development came just days after another round of talks with world powers seeking to limit Tehran's atomic program ended in a stalemate.
Iran already has uranium mines and the ability to turn the raw ore into a material called yellowcake, which is the first step in the enrichment chain. But the new facilities - the country's largest uranium mine and processing facility - give Tehran more self-sufficiency over the raw materials and underscore Iran's drive to expand its nuclear capacities even as world powers press for concessions.
Iran and the six-nation group - the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany - remain stalemated after the latest round of talks last week over efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear program. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said the 'door was still open' for a negotiated pact with Iran, but urged Tehran's leaders to take the first steps to address international concerns that they could seek nuclear weapons.
Iran says it only wants nuclear reactors for electricity and medical applications. Iranian authorities have demanded that world powers acknowledge the country's right to enrich uranium and ease U.N. and Western sanctions.