VIENNA -- New traces of plutonium and enriched uranium, potential material for atomic warheads, have been found in a nuclear waste facility in Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported.
Meanwhile, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, boasted that his country's nuclear fuel program will soon be completed.
The International Atomic Energy Agency detailed the finding.
In the report, it also faulted Tehran for not cooperating with the UN watchdog agency's attempts to investigate other aspects of Iran's nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad, while in a two-hour news conference in Tehran, asserted that the world has no choice but to "live with a nuclear Iran."
He also said, however, that his country was "still in the first stages" of its uranium enrichment program.
So far, Tehran has been able to activate only two small experimental pilot enrichment plants that UN officials say have frequently broken down, and that have produced only small amounts of material that may be suitable for nuclear fuel.
But Iran has progressed enough since resuming enrichment activities in February to provoke a UN Security Council demand that it freeze its program -- a call that Tehran has ignored. It says it intends to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment involving 3,000 centrifuges by late 2006, then expand the program to 54,000 centrifuges.
Iranian officials say 54,000 centrifuges would produce enough enriched uranium to fuel a 1,000-megawatt reactor, such as the one being built by Russia that is near completion at the southern city of Bushehr.
Specialists have estimated that Iran would need only about 1,500 centrifuges to produce a nuclear weapon.
Tehran has said that it is only seeking to generate low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, and not the highly enriched variety needed for weapons. It also denies that it is building a heavy-water research reactor at Arak to obtain plutonium for nuclear arms, asserting it only wants to produce radioactive isotopes for medical treatment.
Still, when finished, probably early in the next decade, Arak could produce enough plutonium for about two bombs a year.
The Arak plant, along with the discovery of a secret Iranian enrichment program in 2003, Tehran's refusal to cease uranium enrichment, and findings by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have increased suspicions about Iran's program.
In February, the International Atomic Energy Agency board referred Iran to the United Nations Security Council.
That referral suggested that Iran had breached the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and might be trying to make nuclear weapons.
The United States and its European allies are negotiating with Russia and China over a draft Security Council resolution that would penalize Iran for its refusal to respect an Aug. 31 deadline to halt enrichment.
Ahmadinejad said: "I'm very hopeful that we will be able to hold the big celebration of Iran's full nuclearization in the current year." Iran's calendar year ends on March 20.
But he acknowledged Iran still has a long way to go before it can produce enough enriched uranium for the reactor at Bushehr.