The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization says Iran has not slowed down its civilian nuclear program.
The question remains why the oil-rich country needs such a program.
Iranian news sources recently reported that Iran has not slowed down its civilian nuclear program and, in fact, has assured the public that its nuclear activities are “vigorously progressing.”
“With all my scientific, technological and administrative experience in the nuclear field for some 50 years, I insist that the nuclear industry has not been shut down and the work is going on,” said Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi.
“While the nuclear activities are in progress, there are plans for a major boost to the nuclear industry,” he added.
Salehi was specifically referring to a recent meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which Russian assistance with the construction of two new nuclear power plants in Iran was reportedly discussed.
“Once the two presidents give their approval to the beginning of the construction plan, a project worth $10 billion will kick off, causing a jump in Iran’s nuclear industry,” he said.
Just days after sanctions relief for the Islamic Republic was underway as per the implementation of the nuclear deal with the world’s powers – which purported to limit Iran’s nuclear capacities – Salehi had announced the signing of the agreements between Iran and Russia to build “two big reactors” near the city of Bushehr. In 2014, Iran and Russia agreed that Russia would build eight more nuclear plants in Iran.
An existing nuclear plant in Bushehr was also built by Russia.
The renewed and “vigorously progressing” nuclear activity by Iran is just one of the many ruses used by the regime to continue advancing its nuclear weapons program under the eyes of the West. In a 2013 video, Rouhani is seen exposing Iran’s strategy to advance its nuclear program through the use of deception and the pitting of Europe against America.
Rouhani exudes pride as he describes his successful tenure as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator on behalf of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The video opens with Rouhani explaining that he is responsible for huge advances in Iran’s nuclear program under the watch of three European ministers.
“The day we invited the three European ministers, only 10 centrifuges were spinning at Natanz. We could not produce one gram of U4 or U6 [uranium hexafluoride]. We did not have the heavy water, we could not produce yellowcake, our total production of centrifuges inside the country was 150. We wanted to complete all of these, we needed time.” [emphasis added]
One of the tactics he used was deception. He refers to Iran’s 2003 declaration where they agreed to “voluntarily to suspend all uranium enrichment and processing activities as defined by the IAEA.”
Referring to the declaration, Rouhani says, “The statement of Tehran in that declaration, there was a resolution that all [uranium enrichment and processing] must stop but we did not allow it.”
In the video, Rouhani – with a gleaming smile –specifically mentions the completion of the Bushehr reactor as one of his accomplishments, along with the completion of the Arak heavy water plant and increasing the number of centrifuges from 150 to 1,700 at Natanz.
It is worth noting that the Bushehr reactor may have been one of the reactors targeted by the Stuxnet virus that destroyed one-fifth of the 5,000 centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility in 2010. The reactor was also the target of many bombings by the Iraqis during the Iran-Iraq war (1981- 1988).
The fact that Bushehr was continually targeted points to the likely possibility that illicit nuclear activity was being conducted at that reactor.
It is also questionable what use Iran has for civilian nuclear power. Iran is one of the oil superpowers of the world. Even with sanctions in place following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, as late as 2004, Iranian oil revenues generated between $25-30 billion per year, making the industry the country’s primary source of foreign currency.
Iran has continually used deception to advance its nuclear weapons program (when it is not openly flaunting this program in front of the international community through ballistic missile tests).
The statement of Saheli, along with the announcement of the new deal with Russia to build more reactors at Bushehr does not bode well that Iran is merely advancing a needed civilian nuclear program.