(JNi.media) Iran has discovered high reserves of uranium at a new mine, which it will soon begin to extract, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday, according to IRNA.
“I cannot announce [the size] Iran’s uranium mine reserves,” Salehi said, noting “the important thing is that before aerial prospecting for uranium ores we were not too optimistic, but the new discoveries have made us confident about our reserves.”
Back in 2009, Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency officially announced there were some 400 uranium mines in operation nationwide. Official Iranian sources back then reported more than 36,000 tons in uranium reserves in those mines.
However, according to Reuters, some Western analysts have said Iran had a low supply of uranium, suggesting that, were it to pursue an aggressive nuclear program, it “would sooner or later would need to import uranium.”
According to a 2009 report of the Institute for Science and International Security, for instance, “Iran could be close to exhausting its supply of uranium oxide while lacking the adequate resources to sustain indigenous commercial-scale uranium processing and enrichment.”
A 2013 Carnegie Endowment and Federation of American Scientists report said the scarcity and low quality of Iran’s uranium resources forced it “to rely on external sources of natural and processed uranium,” stating that “Iran’s estimated uranium endowments are nowhere near sufficient to supply its planned nuclear program.”
Salehi said uranium extraction is starting soon at a new mine in the central province of Yazd, according to IRNA.