Iran announced an expansion of its uranium production and claimed other atomic energy advances on Tuesday, striking a newly defiant tone over its nuclear dispute with the big powers in the aftermath of diplomatic talks over the weekend that apparently made no progress.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who proclaimed the news in a speech, coupled it with harsh criticism of what he called "hegemonic powers" that have sought to damage Iran's dignity through pressures -- a clear reference to economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over the nuclear dispute.
"Iran has already become a nuclear country, and no one is capable of stealing this title," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying at a ceremony held to commemorate National Nuclear Technology Day, a holiday he created in 2006 during his first term in office in order to exalt Iran's nuclear energy achievements.
"They caused restrictions and issued threats, thinking that the Iranian nation cannot achieve nuclear energy," he was quoted as saying. "The best way for you is to cooperate with Iran."
He said Iran had opened two uranium extraction mines in the central province of Yazd and a factory in the same area to manufacture yellowcake, a form of semirefined uranium that can be further processed into nuclear fuel. The president also announced that Iranian nuclear scientists had created five new medicines and a homemade industrial electron accelerator.
The announcements came three days after talks adjourned between Iran and a group of six nations -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- over Iran's defiance of United Nations Security Council demands for a halt to the uranium enrichment until questions about Iran's nuclear intentions are answered. Western nations suspect that Iran is seeking to achieve the capability to make nuclear weapons, despite its denials.
The talks, held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, ended with no announcement of when they might resume, one of several indications of an impasse.
Secretary of State John Kerry, reacting to the Iranian president's announcements, called them provocative and said the negotiations with Iran could not be open-ended. Mr. Kerry spoke as he was departing from a visit to Israel, where suspicions that Iran has malevolent nuclear intentions are particularly strong.
European diplomatic officials reacted in more measured tones to Mr. Ahmadinejad's proclamations, noting that he has made grand announcements of Iranian nuclear progress on the annual holiday since he created it seven years ago. Previous announcements have touted the inauguration of Iran's first nuclear fuel plant and new centrifuges for enriching uranium, some of which turned out to be exaggerated.
"It does not come as a surprise that Iran makes announcements on its nuclear program on its 'national nuclear day,' " said Michael Mann, a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, the European Union's top foreign policy official, who represents the group of six powers in the Iran talks.
"Our position remains unchanged: We urge Iran to bring its nuclear activities into compliance with its international obligations," Mr. Mann said. Iran, he said, should engage with the group "on an initial confidence-building step without further delay."
The triumphal tone of Mr. Ahmadinejad's announcements was undercut somewhat by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that jolted the countryside in southern Iran near Bushehr, the site of its only nuclear power plant, built by the Russians. Iran's state news media said that the quake, which was felt in neighboring Dubai, killed 30 people, wounded 800 and heavily damaged two villages, but that the plant had not been affected. Russian news services quoted officials of the company that built the Bushehr plant, Atomstroyexport, as saying operations there were proceeding normally.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.