Iran’s chief atomic energy official said on Sunday that the Islamic Republic was entitled to enrich uranium to the weapons-grade level of 90 percent, and also announced that Tehran was planning to construct at least four new nuclear plants with the help of Russia, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency and the Jerusalem Post.
Although Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), held back from saying his nation would go ahead with plans to enrich uranium at the level needed to yield nuclear weapons material, he stressed that Iran had the “right” to do so.
“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 percent to 90 percent is our right,” he said.
However, Salehi said Iran had voluntarily agreed to limit its current enrichment activities to the 5 percent level, under the terms of an interim deal reached between Tehran and the P5+1 world powers in November.
Salehi also said his country planned to build four new nuclear power plants in the coming years to accompany Iran’s sole nuclear power plant operating at Bushehr. He said construction of Iran’s second nuclear site was due to begin in the coming Iranian-calendar year. He added that construction of the next three plants would continue every other year through joint cooperation between the country’s experts and their Russian counterparts.