- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

As Congress weighs a deal designed to curb Iran’s nuclear programs, a top official in Tehran this week announced plans to construct a string of special schools to train a new generation of nuclear scientists and technologists.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), made the announcement at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new “nuclear high school” in the Iranian city of Mashhad Tuesday, according to a report in the Iranian FARS news service.

Mr. Salehi emerged as a key player in the final nuclear accord negotiated by the Obama administration and five international partners with Iran last month. He and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a fellow MIT-trained physicist, were credited with nailing down many of the technical details on inspections and nuclear enrichment in the agreement, which is now being considered by both the U.S. Congress and Iran’s parliament.

“Building specialized nuclear schools across Iran [is] among the AEOI’s plans,” Mr. Salehi said, according to the FARS report.

Iranian officials have insisted their nuclear programs are intended for peaceful, civilian uses, and Mr. Salehi said one of the first project will be to build a special hospital to treat patients who need nuclear medicine, which uses small quantities of radioactive material in drugs for treatment and diagnosis.

President Obama says the deal will keep Iran from building a nuclear bomb for the next decade and severely curtail Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure, in exchange for the gradual lifting of international economic sanctions. Critics say Iran under the accord was allowed to keep its nuclear research, personnel and production facilities in place, and that international inspections will not be able to catch Iranian violations.

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