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'Gone nuclear': Iran ramps up uranium production

Mehdi Ghasemi / ISNA via AP, file

Two technicians in Iran adjust their protective wear alongside a container of yellow cake uranium.

Iran said on Tuesday it had started production at two uranium mines and a yellow-cake plant, declaring that Western opposition would not slow its nuclear program days after talks between Tehran and world powers failed to reach an accord.

The country opened the Saghand 1 and 2 uranium mines in the central city of Yazd, which will extract uranium from a depth of more than 1,100 feet, and the Shahid Rezaeinejad yellow-cake plant at Ardakan to mark Iran's National Nuclear Technology Day, state news agency IRNA said.

The Ardakan plant is capable of producing 66 tons of yellow cake -- raw uranium -- annually, IRNA said.

The United States and some allies suspect Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, but Iran insists that its atomic program, including its enrichment of uranium, is for purely peaceful purposes. Talks between Iran and world powers held in Kazakhstan last week failed to reach a breakthrough.

"They [world powers] tried their utmost to prevent Iran from going nuclear, but Iran has gone nuclear," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech at Iran's Atomic Energy Organization on Tuesday.

"This nuclear technology and power and science has been institutionalized. … All the stages are in our control, and every day that we go forward a new horizon opens up before the Iranian nation."

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Diplomat: Iran, West 'a long way apart'

Full Iran coverage from NBC News