Iranian lawmakers are studying a bill which will require the government to enrich uranium to the purity level of 60 percent, a senior MP announced on Saturday.
“Given the method that the other negotiating side (the US in particular) has adopted during the nuclear negotiations, the legislators are working on a bill which will require the government to increase the level of uranium enrichment to over 60%,” member of the parliament’s Energy Commission Seyed Mehdi Moussavinejad told FNA.
Noting that the double-urgency bill will be presented to the parliament’s Presiding Board soon, he said, “Our country enjoys the necessary potential for enrichment over the 20% grade.”
The lawmaker explained that “we need to enrich uranium more than 60% to supply fuel for our ships”.
The decision was taken after Washington breached the recent Geneva deal between Iran and the world powers by blacklisting a dozen companies and individuals for evading US sanctions.
“By imposing new sanctions, the US has breached the Geneva agreement,” Moussavinejad said.
Iran announced in April that it could start enriching uranium to the purity level of 50 percent if its research community declares a need to nuclear-fueled submarines, but meantime underlined that it is not enriching uranium over 20 percent of purity at present and has no such plans for future now.
“For now we have no plans for enrichment above 20 percent,” Former Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Fereidoun Abbasi said at the time, and added, “But in some cases … such as ships and submarines, if our researchers have a need for greater presence under the sea, we must build small engines whose construction requires fuel enriched to 45 to 56 percent.”
“In this case, it’s possible we would need this fuel.”
Meantime, the Iranian nuclear chief stressed that the country does not have any plan at present to work on enrichment levels above 20 percent, and reminded that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has never reported enrichment activities at 50 percent of purity level in Iran, “because there has never been such a thing” in Iran.
This is not the first time Iran announces that it enjoys the technical know-how to enrich uranium to purity levels above 20 percent. Abbasi had first announced in July 2012 that Iran is in possession of the technical knowledge to produce the nuclear fuel needed for trade vessels and submarines.
“We have the capability to produce nuclear fuel for ships and submarines,” Abbasi said, and added, “But currently no plan to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent of enrichment is on our agenda.”
The AEOI has no difficulty to move towards such systems and technologies, once it becomes a matter of basic need and the government makes a decision about it, Abbasi stated.
Also in July 2012, a senior legislator had declared that some MPs were discussing the plan to use nuclear fuel in Iranian vessels, and urged the government 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,” 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.
Iranian military officials had also earlier informed that the country is designing a nuclear-fueled submarine.
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.