US: New Nuclear Plants Won’t Violate JCPOA

US: New Nuclear Plants Won’t Violate JCPOA US: New Nuclear Plants Won’t Violate JCPOA

Iran is permitted to pursue the construction of two newly announced nuclear plants under the parameters of last year's nuclear agreement, officials of President Barack Obama's administration informed Washington Free Beacon. This sets the stage for Tehran to move forward with construction, following orders issued by President Hassan Rouhani.

Ali Salehi, Iran's top nuclear official, announced on Thursday that Iran intends to invest $10 billion into the construction of two new nuclear plants after receiving the presidential order, according to Iranian media reports.

A US State Department official told Free Beacon following the announcement that Iran is allowed to move forward with this venture under the nuclear agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which does not prohibit this type of nuclear construction.

"It [the nuclear deal] does not prevent Iran from pursuing new light-water reactors," a State Department official not authorized to speak on record said to the Free Beacon in response to questions about Iran's latest announcement. "Any new nuclear reactors in Iran will be subject to its safeguards obligations."

  Opposition in Congress

Critics in the US Congress of the Obama administration's diplomacy with Iran condemned the new nuclear reactors, telling the Free Beacon that the administration is turning a blind eye to the Islamic Republic's alleged pursuit of illicit nuclear technology.

"Nothing in the behavior of the Iranian [government] in the year since the JCPOA went into effect should give us any confidence that they will be confining their nuclear program to peaceful activities," Republican Senator Ted Cruz said. "Secretary [of State John] Kerry seems to think that [Iranian officials] are interested in curing cancer and civilian energy production, but their rapid progress in ballistic missile technology suggests they are far more determined to develop the nuclear weapons these projectiles are designed to deliver," he claimed.

Iran denies the charge that its nuclear activities might have had military aspects, saying the program is totally geared toward peaceful applications. The civilian nature of Iran's nuclear program was confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which set the stage for the July 2015 nuclear deal with the major powers.

Tehran also says its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons and are only meant to improve the country's conventional deterrence strength.

Congressional sources familiar with the matter said the administration's lack of concern about the new nuclear reactors is adding fuel to a growing dispute surrounding White House efforts to comply with the clauses of the nuclear deal it signed with Iran alongside Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany.

  Political Challenge

In announcing the construction of the two nuclear plants, Salehi took aim at the United States, blasting it for creating obstacles to the Islamic Republic's efforts to become a nuclear power.

"The US has settled its scores with its potential rivals but Iran has stood up against it," Salehi said. "This is a serious political challenge that does not form in vacuum and requires producing content and ideologies."

Salehi also said Iran would continue to produce heavy water, a non-radioactive material used in nuclear reactors.

The United States committed to purchasing more than 30 tons of this material from Iran earlier this year to keep it in line with restrictions imposed by the nuclear deal.

"Iran's heavy water production surplus is currently on a sale agenda and our nuclear industry is functioning well," Salehi said.