Iran Claims Right to Enrich to 90%, Plans New Nuclear Plants

In Iran, it was a busy day in the news. Consider these four items from FARS, the semi-official Iranian news service:

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced that Iran retains the right to enrich uranium to weapons grade, and said that Iran will build four new nuclear power plants with Russian assistance:

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi underlined that the country is entitled to enrich uranium to the level of 90%, and said Tehran plans to build four new nuclear plants with Russians’ help. “Firstly, we believe that we are entitled to any right that any NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and (International Atomic Energy) Agency member has, which means that enrichment (of uranium) from 1% to 90% is our right,” Salehi said in a televised interview on Sunday.

He said that Iran has accepted to limit its enrichment program to the level of 5% only in a voluntary move based on the Geneva deal inked between Tehran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) sealed in November.

Elsewhere, Salehi announced Iran’s plans to build four other nuclear power plants in the coming years, and said the construction work for the establishment of Iran’s second power plant would start this (Iranian) year and the same trend would continue for the construction of three more plans every other year.

He said that Iran seeks to build its next nuclear power plants through joint cooperation between the country’s experts and their Russian counterparts.

A member of Iran’s parliament gave assurance that Iran will not give up its heavy water capability:

Iran has no plans to relinquish the construction or operation of its heavy water reactor in the Central city of Arak, a senior Iranian legislator underscored on Sunday.

“Arak reactor should remain in place and work with a heavy water reactor (technology),” Chairman of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said in an interview with the parliament’s news website today.

The Iranian officials had earlier announced that launching the heavy water reactor in the Central city of Arak is among Iran’s redlines, adding that the installations are under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Iranian armed forces emphasized today that the army will not accept an “irrational” agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities:

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces for Cultural Affairs and Defense Publicity Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri warned those states which are in talks with Tehran over its nuclear program that the Iranian Armed Forces will never accept an improper or unjust deal.

“We respect understanding as long as it falls within the framework of our country’s national interests,” Jazayeri said in Tehran on Sunday, and stated that were the Iranians not strong enough to resist pressures, no revolution should have taken place originally.

“I tell the US that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces won’t accept any irrational agreement,” he added.

Here is a question: if, as Iran’s government insists, it intends to use its nuclear capability only for electric power production and not for military purposes, why would its armed forces be poised to veto any agreement that it considers too restrictive?

Meanwhile, negotiators for Iran and the G5+1 met for two days last week without making any apparent progress. The negotiations adjourned and will resume in mid-May. Which brings us to one more FARS News story dated today:

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani underscored that Tehran has always believed in solving its problems with the international bodies through dialogue, but meantime, stressed that Iran’s firm stance and wise policy in talks with the world powers have proved the country’s determination to defend its rights without any fear. …

Many countries lack enough courage to stand up to global arrogance but the Iranian people have proved their power and resistance, he said. …

Since the beginning of nuclear negotiations, Iran has never walked out, Larijani underlined.

Of course not. They just keep talking. And talking. And talking. Which is fine with Barack Obama, who announced an agreement with Iran when there was no agreement, and just wants the mullahs’ nuclear program out of sight and out of mind while he focuses on the midterm election.

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