Amid heavy security, Iran marks the anniversary of the Islamic revolution. President Ahmadinejad, in a speech in Tehran, announced that Iran had begun production of highly enriched uranium in defiance of the West.
Government supporters gathered to celebrate the Islamic Revolution
Over 100 thousand government supporters have massed in central Tehran to mark the anniversary of the 1979 revolution that created Iran's Islamic Republic, while a heavy security force fanned across the city to snuff out the opposition's counter protests.
Police clashed with protesters at several sites around Tehran, opposition Web sites reported. Dozens of hard-liners with batons and pepper spray attacked the convoy of a senior opposition leader, Mahdi Karroubi, smashing his car windows and forcing him to turn back as he tried to join the protests, his son Hossein Karroubi told The Associated Press.
Thursday's celebrations were an opportunity for Iran's clerical regime to tout its power in the face of the opposition movement.
Production of highly enriched uranium
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a speech in Tehran marking the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, announced that Iran had already produced highly enriched nuclear material in defiance of the West.
Ahmadinejad claims Iran has produced highly enriched uranium
"The head of Iran's atomic energy organization said the first stock of 20 percent fuel was produced and delivered to scientists," he said in a speech at Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square before a crowd of several hundred thousand supporters.
Ahmadinejad stressed Iran was now a "nuclear" state which had nothing to hide and would not be bullied. "They (the Americans) want to dominate our region, but the Iranian people will never let them do that," he added.
IAEA report on Iran's enrichment process
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency published a document on Thursday that revealed Iran would produce its first batch of higher enriched uranium "within a few days."
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano wrote in the one-page report that Iran had informed agency inspectors that it had "begun to feed the (LEU) low-enriched uranium into one cascade (of uranium-enriching) centrifuges" at its plant in Natanz.
"We were also told that the facility was expected to begin production of up to 20 percent enriched [uranium] within a few days," Amano said.
Technology available to produce nuclear weapons
The IAEA head added that "it should be noted that there is currently only one cascade installed in (Natanz) that is capable of enriching the LEU up to 20 percent."
Uranium enrichment is taking place at facilities in Natanz, Iran told the IAEA
Experts say that once Iran has enriched uranium to the 20 percent level, there is nothing to stop it carrying on to the 93 percent level needed to produce nuclear weapons as the technology is the same.
The West suspects the Islamic Republic of using its nuclear energy program as a cover for efforts to build atomic weapons, a charge repeatedly denied by Iran, which insists its program aims solely to meet growing energy needs.