Nuclear Propulsion Project's Increased Pace "Not Unrelated" to US Stance
Sunday, February 25, 2018

Nuclear Propulsion Project's Increased Pace "Not Unrelated" to US Stance

The plan to build marine nuclear propulsion systems has been stepped up partly in response to Washington's increasingly hostile stance on the nuclear deal, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said.
"The nuclear propulsion issue has been on the national agenda for some time but its acceleration and prioritization is not unrelated to the JCPOA and the approach of the other side, particularly the Americans," Behrouz Kamalvandi said in an interview with ISNA on Friday. He was using the formal title of the accord, namely the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
US President Donald Trump has long railed against the 2015 nuclear deal under some pretexts, including its limited duration and the fact it does not cover Iran's ballistic missile program.  He has threatened to withdraw unless European allies help "fix" the agreement with a follow-up accord.
Since the historic nuclear agreement was put into force a year before Trump's swearing-in in January 2017, the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified that Iran has stayed within limits set by the deal on its nuclear activity in return for Tehran's relief from international economic sanctions.
The UN nuclear watchdog's most recent quarterly report on Iran earlier this month reaffirmed that assessment, but also said the Islamic Republic had informed the agency of a "decision that has been taken to construct naval nuclear propulsion in future."
  Call for Clarification 
The report said Iran has yet to respond to the IAEA's request for "further clarifications and amplifications", adding that if Iran had reached a concrete decision to build new facilities for marine propulsion it must provide design information, Reuters reported. Kamalvandi said Iran will provide the required information to the Vienna-based agency, which is policing the deal's restrictions, on an ad hoc basis.
"The agency has been provided with the information required of us at this stage but there is no definite timetable for the provision of later information. It would depend on the feasibility assessment of the project," he said.  Iran publically raised the prospect of building nuclear-powered marine vessels in 2016, when President Hassan Rouhani ordered the start of planning on the development of those systems.
Rouhani's move was a reaction to the signing of a congressional bill by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama into law to extend for another decade the Iran Sanctions Act, which was adopted in 1996 to target Iran's energy industry.
  Question of Funding
"The AEOI has submitted a report to the president in this relation, as required under the presidential directive… The most important issue was financing the project. The required funds have been provided," Kamalvandi said. The confidential quarterly IAEA report followed a warning by Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi on Thursday that Tehran will pull out of the deal if its access to the pact's economic benefits remains blocked and major global banks continue to shun Iran's economy.
Reuters reported last week that the United States has sketched out a path under which the European parties to the Iran nuclear deal would simply commit to try to improve the pact over time in return for Trump keeping the pact alive by resigning waivers of anti-Iran sanctions in May.


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