Rouhani Orders Production of Highly Enriched Nuclear Fuel
“Considering that the US administration has ignored and delayed compliance with its undertakings under the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and given the recent extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) that had already been declared as a violation of the nuclear deal by the Islamic Republic of Iran…, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran is ordered to develop the country’s peaceful nuclear program within the framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s international undertakings as defined in the following missions,” President Rouhani said in a letter to AEOI Chief Ali Akbar Salehi on Tuesday.
First, President Rouhani said, the AEOI is required “to plan for designing and building propulsion systems to be used in marine transportation in cooperation with scientific and research centers”.
He also asked the Iranian nuclear agency to conduct studies to design “production of fuel for nuclear propulsion systems”.
The president also required Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to file a complaint at the commission envisaged in the nuclear deal against the extension of the sanctions and take other necessary legal and international actions.
Rouhani required Zarif to inform him of his actions and their results in one month, while he asked Salehi to report back to him in maximum 3 months.
Nuclear propulsion uses a nuclear power reactor to generate electricity on a vessel. Such systems are best known for their use on strategic nuclear submarines, which allow them to stay submerged for weeks avoiding detection. Nuclear propulsion is also used on some big surface ships like aircraft carriers or icebreakers.
Iranian officials have warned several times in the last few years that the country would embark on enriching uranium for nuclear-fueled vessels if provoked by hostile actions.
In 2012, a senior Iranian Navy commander stressed Iran’s high capabilities in designing and manufacturing different types of submarines, and announced the country’s move towards manufacturing nuclear-powered submarines.
Speaking to FNA at the time, Lieutenant Commander of the Navy for Technical Affairs Rear Admiral Abbas Zamini pointed to the navy’s plan to manufacture super heavy nuclear-powered submarines, and stated, “Right now, we are at the initial phases of manufacturing atomic submarines.”
He noted Iran’s astonishing progress in developing and acquiring civilian nuclear technology for various power-generation, agricultural and medical purposes, and said such advancements allow Iran to think of manufacturing nuclear-fueled submarines.
Admiral Zamini further reminded that using nuclear power to fuel submarines is among the civilian uses of the nuclear technology and all countries are, thus, entitled to the right to make such a use.
In July 2012 and before Rouhani rose to power, a senior legislator declared that some parliamentarians were discussing the plan to use nuclear fuel in Iranian vessels, and urged the government of President Ahmadinejad to enrich uranium to the needed levels to be used in such nuclear-powered ships.
“The government should enrich uranium to the needed level to supply fuel for the ships,” former member of the parliament’s Industries Commission Allahverdi Dehqani told FNA at the time.
“Given the western states’ sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which include an embargo on the supply of fossil fuels to Iranian vessels, the Islamic Republic will replace the fossil fuel with nuclear fuel to counter the sanctions so that Iranian ships would not need refueling for long-distance voyages,” he added.
“The government should enrich uranium to the necessary levels to supply fuel for such ships since we cannot cut our trade relations with other countries due to the western sanctions,” Dehqani said.
In December 2013, Iranian lawmakers drafted a bill that would require the government to produce 60-percent enriched uranium in line with the requirements of the nation’s civilian nuclear program.
The draft bill was presented after Washington breached the Geneva deal between Iran and the world powers by blacklisting a dozen companies and individuals for evading US sanctions.