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Nuke director: Iran not building nuclear submarines

by Mike Hoffman on July 23, 2012

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization told a state sponsored news service that Iran has no plans right now to develop a nuclear powered submarine despite the recent support inside Iran’s parliament.

U.S. officials essentially scoffed at this idea pointing out how young Iran’s nuclear program still is. To think the country’s scientists could design a reactor to power a submarine seemed far fetched.

The move by Iran’s parliament to draft a bill to enrich uranium to a point it could power a submarine’s nuclear reactor was more or less a symbolic move of defiance in the face of international sanctions imposed on Iran because of its nuclear program, defense analysts have said.

Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization director, made sure to point out that Iran did have the ability to design a nuclear submarine. It just hasn’t started, yet.

“We don’t have a plan right now in this area,” Abbasi Davani said.

He insisted that Iran’s nuclear program is focused solely on non-military interests and enrichment activities remain in Tehran. If Iran changes its mind in respect to developing a nuclear submarine, Abbasi Davani said the government would notify the U.N.‘s International Atomic Energy Agency.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

TLAM Strike July 23, 2012 at 11:53 am

"Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization director, made sure to point out that Iran did have the ability to design a nuclear submarine. It just hasn’t started, yet."

I have that ability. Most 3rd graders have that ability.

Iran you have to first design and build a successful conventional submarine. Building subs from kits shipped in from North Korea is going to get you nowhere.

I hope they try, the cost of setting up the program would finish bankrupting them. Their currency is already in the toilet as it is.

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blight_ July 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm

They still need to deploy their own reactor designs. The Russians helped them build Bushehr; but a mini reactor that will work in a submarine? Hmm.

Besides, is a blue-water nuclear-powered submarine appropriate for Gulf states? Haven't looked at charts for the Gulf, but I thought there might be more littoral area not favorable to such submarines.

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TLAM Strike July 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm

There are a few nuclear submarines that would be effective in the Gulf. The French Rubis class comes to mind, they are quite small (around 2000 tons displacement). But building a nuc boat that is quiet in that displacement is a serous technological achievement, and I doubt its within what Iran is capable of.

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blight_ July 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm

The French had to modify their Rubis to get it just right. That said, the Rubis doesn't have much in land attack, but for a defending nation there will be plenty of sea targets for them.

I thought something like Andrasta (which is still just a concept) or Scorpene might suit Gulf nations.

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B33tle July 24, 2012 at 11:02 am

It can be pretty quiet until the prayer call goes out over the 1MC several times a day.

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blight_ July 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I'm sure it would be twice as loud on a Revolutionary Guards ship.

steve July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Iran buys what it can't make themselves….THEY HAVE MONEY, and we know that spends everywhere…more so in some places than others??? With the accelerated speed in which they went into Nuclear Production, never underestimate their skills, and intelligence? The Western Nations did that with the Communist Soviets for decades, look at the deaths, and unrest, we have today as a result? We just "ass-u-me" we are the smart ones and everyone else is dumb????

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ghostwhowalksnz July 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Iran has a substantial coastline on the Arabian Sea – which is outside the Gulf

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blight_ July 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Fair enough. Though Iran's navy /used/ to be configured for action inside the Gulf, but I guess that's open to change.

Blue-water subs could hide out in the Indian Ocean and interdict supply ships heading to the gulf, or strike at ships coming from Diego. Or if they are ambitious enough, use their subs to deliver minisubs or commandoes against Diego. Worth a shot in wartime.

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shawn1999 July 24, 2012 at 8:32 am

Nah, they just have to convince the Russians or Chinese to give them a few. Maybe they'll "hijack" one of ours like they did the RQ-22 drone…. ok, i can't stop laughing now.

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blight_ July 26, 2012 at 9:18 am

Iran should focus on SSK's with land-attack capability (like the Israeli Dolphins) rather than obssessing about new means to cover their uranium enrichment program with miscellany applications of uranium enrichment.

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Mastro July 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

"The move by Iran’s parliament to draft a bill to enrich uranium to a point it could power a submarine’s nuclear reactor was more or less a symbolic move of defiance in the face of international sanctions imposed on Iran because of its nuclear program, "

So basically its another lame excuse to have an enrichment program- I guess the medical isotope industry excuse is wearing a bit thin?

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Lance July 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Every one know naval power isn't one of Iran's wants. it wants warheads for there missiles.

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blight_ July 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm

They want more legit opportunities to get their hands wet with an indigenous nuclear industry.

That said, I wonder if the Iranians have thought of thorium for their "peaceful" nuclear energy industry.

"Oh no, no…we want plutonium, and uranium like you guys. You guys had it because nuclear weapons came first followed by nuclear power…but we have no intention of using these nuclear weapons, mind you…"

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blight_ July 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm

A strange tidbit from the past: Did you know Brazil wants nuclear submarines too?
http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2009-06

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TLAM Strike July 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Argentina has been saying it was to retrofit a nuclear plant on its 1/2 finished TR-1700 class submarine as well.

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Musson July 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Nuclear subs utilize reactors with much higher grade enriched uranium than commercial reactors.

I think they are saving their highly enriched uranium for some other project.

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sev July 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I'm sorry but did the politicians really scoff at the idea that Iran could get reactor designs from Russia?

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David July 23, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Everyone crucifies Iran and they deserve some of that.

Let's not forget that our so called "ally" Israel has and continues to spy very heavily on America. 3rd behind China and Russia. More so than all Arab countries combined.. But for some reason we do nothing about that….

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Rob July 23, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Spying on Allies has multiple benefits.

Iran is no threat. Any aggression by them and NATO+Isreal+much of the Arab League will be all over them.

BUT if we are aggressive then we have to contend with China and Russia backing Iran.

Personally I feel we should stop sanctioning Iran. Asia benefits everytime we do it.

Remember, the planet has 196 countries. All with their own agendas and needs.

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blight_ July 24, 2012 at 8:56 am

The push to nuclear started under the Shah, who commenced Bushehr. If they didn't hate any and everything the Pahlavis started, they would have invoked that to say that Iran is still committed to peaceful nuclear power.

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mehrdad July 24, 2012 at 10:13 am

tebghe mamool goh khori ziadi kardan daran jamesh mikonan hala :)

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BillFHM3C July 25, 2012 at 2:12 am

They don't need to make one, they can buy one and reverse engineer it. Plain & simple.

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TLAM Strike July 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm

They could, and any country that sold them it would be in violation of UNSCR 1737 (nuclear related materials) 1747 (arms incl. warships), and the US Navy could stop, search and very likely seize such a craft or its delivery vessel under UNSCR 1803.

Just like when we inspected some of the midget submarines North Korea sold to Iran. Technically they were not designed for combat so we had to let them go. Iran then retrofitted some light weight torpedo tubes on to them (something they are not going to pull off with a real SSN).

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ggh September 5, 2012 at 1:19 am

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