Fox News reported, Iran should enrich uranium to new levels close to weapons-grade to produce fuel for proposed nuclear-powered oil tankers, a conservative Iranian news website said Monday.
Iran currently has no such ships. The commentary by Mashreghnews.ir, which reflects the views of some Iranian hardliners, comes after a parliamentary committee prepared a bill that would require the Islamic Republic to design nuclear-powered merchant ships and provide them with nuclear fuel
While according to ajc the bill appears to be a symbolic gesture to bolster Tehran’s argument that it has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
Lawmaker Mohammad Bayatian was quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency as saying sanctions are forcing Iran to use different fuel for its oil tankers and other large vessels, to avert the need to refuel during long voyages. Some countries refuse to provide fuel to Iranian ships in line with Western sanctions.
The Washington Post said Nuclear-powered vessels other than warships are rare worldwide. Iran says it is designing a nuclear submarine, but the country is seen to be far from a capability to build such ships.
However, a hypothetical fleet of nuclear-powered ships would be an additional justification — alongside electricity generation and medical research — to bolster Iran’s claim that it needs higher enrichment for peaceful purposes. The West fears that Iranian enrichment is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, a claim Tehran denies.
Yahoo News notified that Mashreghnews.ir argued however that Western sanctions may force Iran to use new sources of fuel for big vessels during long voyages.
It said Iran should enrich to 60 percent, much closer to weapons-grade than Tehran’s current program.
“To reach nuclear propulsion, the country’s nuclear industry inevitably has to upgrade the level of nuclear enrichment to the average level needed for new marine reactors, and that will be 50 to 60 percent,” Mashreghnews.ir said.
The website said this will be an “effective step to thwart sanctions and make them ineffective.”