TEHRAN (FNA)- Over 200 Iranian lawmakers endorsed a draft bill which requires the government to enrich uranium to the 60 percent grade, a senior MP announced on Saturday, adding that the double-urgency bill will go under voting in the next two weeks.
“The double-urgency bill, signed by 218 legislators, was presented to the Presiding Board,” member of the parliament’s Energy Commission Seyed Mehdi Moussavinejad told FNA today.
He also said that a copy of the draft bill was submitted to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.
Moussavinejad underlined that the draft bill will be studied and voted in an open session of the parliament after the MPs come back from their 7-day recess next week.
On December 25, Iranian lawmakers drafted a bill that, if passed, would require the government to produce 60-percent enriched uranium in line with the requirements of the nation’s civilian nuclear program.
The draft bill was presented after Washington breached the recent Geneva deal between Iran and the world powers by blacklisting a dozen companies and individuals for evading US sanctions.
Last Saturday, a senior Iranian lawmaker underlined the parliament’s responsibility for safeguarding and saving the country’s resources for the next generations, and said the legislature’s new bill has been drafted to the same end.
“We are completely serious about approving this bill (uranium enrichment to the level of 60 percent purity),” said member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Esmayeel Kosari.
“…we will sign the bill into a law so the government and the negotiation team are notified that the talks must continue based on this law,” Kosari added.
Later, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and senior negotiator in the talks with the world powers Seyed Abbas Araqchi said if the Iranian parliament approves the pending draft bill which requires the government to enrich uranium to the 60 percent grade, it will be binding for the government.
“This is an idea which has been brought up at the parliament and whatever is passed in the parliament and becomes a law will be binding for us,” he added.
During the last year, similar bills have been compiled by smaller numbers of Iranian legislators, but they were all rejected or their verification was postponed by the Presiding Board.
In July 2012, a senior legislator declared that some parliamentarians were discussing the plan to use nuclear fuel in Iranian vessels, and urged the government to enrich uranium to the needed levels to be used in such nuclear-powered ships.
“The government should enrich uranium to the needed level to supply fuel for the ships,” member of the parliament’s Industries Commission Allahverdi Dehqani told FNA at the time.
“Given the western states’ sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which include an embargo on the supply of fossil fuels to Iranian vessels, the Islamic Republic will replace the fossil fuel with nuclear fuel to counter the sanctions so that Iranian ships would not need refueling for long-distance voyages,” he added.
“The government should enrich uranium to the necessary levels to supply fuel for such ships since we cannot cut our trade relations with other countries due to the western sanctions,” Dehqani said.
After the 2012 effort, a larger number of Iranian legislators presented a new bill to the Presiding Board but it was rejected too.
Iran announced in April that it could start enriching uranium to the purity level of 50 percent if its research community declares a need to nuclear-fueled submarines, but meantime underlined that it is not enriching uranium over 20 percent of purity at present and has no such plans for future now.
“For now we have no plans for enrichment above 20 percent,” former Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Fereidoun Abbasi said at the time, and added, “But in some cases … such as ships and submarines, if our researchers have a need for greater presence under the sea, we must build small engines whose construction requires fuel enriched to 45 to 56 percent.”
“In this case, it’s possible we would need this fuel.”
Meantime, the former Iranian nuclear chief stressed that the country did not have any plan then to work on enrichment levels above 20 percent, and reminded that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has never reported enrichment activities at 50 percent of purity level in Iran, “because there has never been such a thing” in Iran.
This is not the first time Iran announces that it enjoys the technical know-how to enrich uranium to purity levels above 20 percent. Abbasi had first announced in July 2012 that Iran is in possession of the technical knowledge to produce the nuclear fuel needed for trade vessels and submarines.
“We have the capability to produce nuclear fuel for ships and submarines,” Abbasi said, and added, “But currently no plan to enrich uranium beyond 20 percent of enrichment is on our agenda.”
The AEOI has no difficulty to move towards such systems and technologies, once it becomes a matter of basic need and the government makes a decision about it, Abbasi stated.
Iranian military officials had also earlier informed that the country is designing a nuclear-fueled submarine.
In 2012, a senior Iranian Navy commander stressed Iran’s high capabilities in designing and manufacturing different types of submarines, and announced the country’s move towards manufacturing nuclear-powered submarines.
Speaking to FNA at the time, Lieutenant Commander of the Navy for Technical Affairs Rear Admiral Abbas Zamini pointed to the navy’s plan to manufacture super heavy nuclear-powered submarines, and stated, “Right now, we are at the initial phases of manufacturing atomic submarines.”
He noted Iran’s astonishing progress in developing and acquiring civilian nuclear technology for various power-generation, agricultural and medical purposes, and said such advancements allow Iran to think of manufacturing nuclear-fueled submarines.
Admiral Zamini further reminded that using nuclear power to fuel submarines is among the civilian uses of the nuclear technology and all countries are, thus, entitled to the right to make such a use.
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