Iran begins production of carbon fiber

IRNA, Iran's official news agency, says that country has developed its own carbon fiber production capabilities. If true, the material will be used to make centrifuges for unranium enrichment.

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The Associated Press and other news organzations reported on Aug. 27 that Iran has begun to manufacture carbon fiber, a material under U.N. embargo because of its potential use in the country's controversial nuclear program. The news was first release by IRNA, Iran's official news agency.

According to the report, Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said Iran decided to manufacture the strategic material domestically since it could no longer access carbon fiber on foreign markets because of the international sanctions.

"Because of the restrictions imposed by the enemies, Iran faced challenges in getting access to carbon fiber," Vahidi was quoted by IRNA as saying. "That had caused a bottleneck in Iran's production of advanced and smart defense systems." He says Iran has mastered the entire process of carbon fiber production.

The report notes that Iran uses carbon fiber for more advanced centrifuges, which spin uranium gas to produce enriched uranium. Low-enriched uranium can be used as nuclear fuel while highly enriched uranium can be used in a warhead. It is also true, however, that Iran often makes announcements of technical and military advancements that cannot be independently verified.

The report says Iran has been producing low-enriched uranium for years and began higher enrichment in February 2010, asserting it needs the higher grade material to produce fuel for a Tehran reactor that makes medical radioisotopes, needed for cancer patients.

Click here for original AP report.