Mehdi Sarram was born in Iran, came to the US in 1961 to study nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan. After receiving his post graduate degree in 1967, he went back to Iran and became an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Tehran as well as the supervisor of the American supplied 5 MW nuclear research reactor. In 1974, he transferred to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and became the director of nuclear safeguards and security. He left Iran in 1981 and worked for the department of safeguards at IAEA and then came to the US in 1982. He became a US citizen in 1988 and has been working for the US nuclear industry since then. He has traveled to 38 countries and has 46 years nuclear experience. He has over 30 scientific publications.
transcriptSHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.Senate Republicans were defeated in their effort to block the Iran deal from taking place. For Iran, the nuclear deal will mean that it will have to neutralize its stockpiles of enriched uranium in exchange for lifting billions of dollars worth of sanctions. Now joining me to discuss this is Mehdi Sarram. Mehdi is an Iranian nuclear engineer who also worked for the Department of Safeguards at IAEA before becoming a U.S. citizen where he worked for the U.S. nuclear industry. He has over 30 scientific publications and his latest book is Nuclear Lies: Deceptions and Hypocrisies. He's now joining us from Carlsbad, California.Mehdi, I thank you so much for joining us today.MEHDI SARRAM: Thank you, Sharmini. A pleasure to be with you again.PERIES: Mehdi, now many Republicans are claiming that this nuclear deal still leaves room for constructing a nuclear weapon. Governor Scott Walker, for example, of Wisconsin, said that the deal allows Tehran to dismantle U.S. and international sanctions without dismantling its illicit nuclear infrastructure, giving Iran's nuclear weapons capability an American stamp of approval. Now, will this deal really give Iran this kind of capability?SARRAM: The answer is categorically no. This is all politics, we all know it. These are the facts. First, since this agreement with P5+1 is a non-binding agreement, it is not a treaty such as NAFTA or NPT. The U.S. Senate does not have to review it. The U.S. Senate by law only ratifies treaties. So this hype and hoopla of 60-day review in the Senate is just a political game and posturing.Two, Iran under this deal will be allowed only to possess 300 kilograms--for our American audience that's 660 pounds--of 3.67 percent enriched uranium. Now, what's 3.67 percent. A nuclear plant in America or the world, [India], needs about 3-5 percent enriched uranium. So Iran cannot use that fuel even for its Russian-built Bushehr plant. Iran needs 20 percent enriched uranium for the research reactor that produces isotopes for cancer patients, so it cannot use that.If I give you, Sharmini, a million pounds of uranium, a million or more of 3.67 percent, it just sits there. It's good for nothing. So when the opposition, Republicans, others, Israel, say Iran in 10 years will have two nuclear weapons I have no other word to say they're simply lying to us. The word lie was invented for this. It is absolutely impossible for Iran to develop, after they implement the program. Today they have 19,000 centrifuges. They will not be allowed to do that. And the deal will block every pathway from Arak plutonium reactor or to enrich uranium to develop a weapon.So we might as well kiss it goodbye. For ever and ever Iran does not have the material to build a nuclear weapon.PERIES: Now Mehdi, many critics are saying that once you have a certain percentage, the 20 percent of uranium, it's very easy to multiply that to 90 percent and can be done quite quickly. As an engineer in nuclear science, what do you say to that?SARRAM: You are absolutely correct. The critics don't have to say, an engineering student will know that. Natural uranium is 0.7 percent, under 1 percent. You go to 3 percent, 5 percent. Iran reached 20 percent because it needed the assemblies for the cancer patient reactor, if you will. From 20 percent it's not easy, it takes time, but you can go to 90-plus. Iran has never ever enriched uranium more than 20 percent, because it's illegal under NPT that countries such as Iran that sign NPT, 1968, one of the first signatories to the IAEA was Iran, is allowed to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes to 20 percent, such as the research reactor.So you're quite right. However, as I mentioned, when Iran can not, and IAEA inspectors will monitor day and night with cameras [seals] the state of the art technology. If Iran starts running a couple of these centrifuge machines next year the world will know about it. Therefore physically it's impossible for Iran to cheat.And people that says Iran cheats, all right, they've cheated in the past, well now we can talk about it. But we have blocked them even from cheating, because the inspectors are there. And when we dismantle 13,000 centrifuges, about 19,000 according to the UN Security Council resolution, Iran is only allowed to maintain up to 3.67 percent, which is to me quite unfair because Iran will be a slave of Russia to get fuel of any cost for the Bushehr commercial plant that produces electricity. And Iran has to start begging around the world for 20 percent enriched fuel for a research reactor that produces isotopes for cancer patients.So these are facts. It's not what I say. And anything else is political posturing and lies, and nonsense.PERIES: Now, Mehdi, since the deal has been signed we really have not had your reaction to the agreement itself and what's contained in it, and whether it is deliverable on the part of the Iranians. I'd like to hear your comments on the deal.SARRAM: Sure. First, I commend President Obama. We need to talk about it. He used the path of diplomacy with Iran, he didn't take us to a war. I was worried for a while with a war between U.S. and Iran or Israel and Iran, which would have devastating effects in the world. And Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan, as we all know.So he used diplomacy. This, to me, I have two views on the deal. One, I am for the agreement. I think it's good for the world, for Israel, and for Iran. It's good for the peace of the world. We won't have war, Israel will not attack. My sisters can sleep in peace tonight because now they know that Israel will not threaten or attack Iran as Israel attacked Iraq and Syria in 1981 and 2007, separate subject.Two, what nobody in America talks about is the view of the Iranians. My sisters, 78 million people. Iran is not the regime. Iran is a country of 78 million with eight, nine thousand years of culture and history. And they have survived.Now, what is the negative about the deal? It's only financial. It's money. Iran, I cannot calculate, but must have spent tens of billions of dollars, probably over 100 billion dollars, since 1985 when they decided to resurrect the nuclear program and build the Arak reactor, build the Natanz centrifuge facility, and build the Fordow enrichment facility, which is under a mountain. Where does that money go? That money belongs to the people of Iran. We are dismantling 13,000 centrifuges. Just calculate the cost of each centrifuge. It's like, Sharmini, you have a studio, The Real News, in Baltimore. Just imagine, scoop it out. You spend millions of dollars building, and one day the world powers come and tell you well, you know, except for one camera and one employee we want you to destroy everything.So to repeat, the agreement is good for the world, including Israel, and people like me don't understand why Israel or Netanyahu is opposed to this. Israel wanted Iran not to have nuclear plants. And Obama gave Netanyahu a deal on a silver platter that says listen, Iran will never have a nuclear plant. So what else do you want?PERIES: So it's clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been defeated by way of this signing of this agreement and what the P5+1 has come to now in terms of an agreement with Iran. I'm going to end this segment now and pick up another conversation with you, which is how you anticipate how this will, this agreement will affect and be received by Iranians. We'll take that up in the next segment. Thank you for joining us on this one, Mehdi Sarram.SARRAM: Thank you.PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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