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December 20, 2016 12:39 pm

Iranian Atomic Energy Official: Islamic Republic’s Nuclear Program in Better Shape Since Forging of Deal With World Powers

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Centrifuges enriching uranium. Photo:: US Department of Energy/Wikimedia Commons.

Centrifuges enriching uranium. Photo:: US Department of Energy/Wikimedia Commons.

The second-in-command of Iran’s atomic energy agency (AEOI) declared on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program was in better shape since the forging of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with world powers in July 2015, the regime-aligned Mehr News Agency reported.

According to the report, AEOI deputy chief Behrouz Kamalvandi gave a press conference in which he said, “We are now in possession of some new reactors that are much technically superior to their previous versions.”

Kamalvandi also pointed to Tehran’s joining of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) megaproject, calling Iran’s participation in it “highly significant,” and saying it “will improve our position on the international scene tremendously.” ITER, he said, “will allow the human race to reserve energy for millions of years.”

He said that though the issue of sanctions — which has come to fore since the passage of a ten-year extension of the Iran Sanctions Act — was one for the Iranian Foreign Ministry to address, he was satisfied with those that have been lifted so far. These, he claimed, have led to the reestablishment of the Islamic Republic’s “connection with the world and the exchange of letters of credit have created a progressive atmosphere for our trade.”

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“If we manage our resources correctly,” he said, “we can join the top ten economies in the world.”

To illustrate the progress he was touting, Kamalvandi said, “Within the span of seven months, we sold 70 tons of heavy water; we are set to sell 20 tons annually, and we have a number of potential buyers.”

According to Mehr, Kamalvandi made reference to many visits paid by Iranian officials to various countries, to discuss expanding nuclear cooperation. He said that these led to the signing of several Memorandums of Understanding — a positive outcome of the JCPOA that he called “undeniable.”

As The Algemeiner reported on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he had fulfilled his pledge to replace the country’s centrifuges with the most advanced and modern ones — and that the plan to make a nuclear propulsion system operative is underway. His statement came a day after a speech in which the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force boasted about the enhanced quality and quantity of Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities.

According to an analysis provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), reported on by The Algemeiner, the $1.7 billion in cash transferred to Tehran by the Obama administration is either directly or indirectly responsible for the recent sharp increase in the budget allocated to Iran’s military pursuits.

“Whatever the source of the defense budget increase,” former senior MEMRI analyst Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli said, “the IRGC will have ample resources to expand its nefarious activities far beyond the borders of the Islamic Republic.”

The Iranian regime continues to assert that the development of its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes alone — a claim rejected by the Obama administration, which insists the JCPOA is keeping Tehran’s capabilities at bay. US President-elect Donald Trump, who will assume office next month, has threatened to cancel or renegotiate what he has called the “stupidest deal of all time.”

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