Iran on Saturday inaugurated a plant for producing carbon fiber, which it is banned from importing by international sanctions targeting dual-use materials, the official IRNA news agency reported.
“Today we are witnessing the fulfillment of a strategic project of the Ministry of Defence,” Defence Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said as he inaugurated the production facility, IRNA reported.
“We are among 10 nations producing (carbon fiber),” he added.
“All of the design- and manufacturing phases of the machinery for carbon fiber production have been carried out in the ministry of defence,” Vahidi added.
“Not only the manufacturing technology but the carbon fiber itself was on the list of the sanctioned materials,” he said.
The “restrictions challenged us to build advanced defence systems,” Vahidi added, referring to an international embargo against dual-use goods that can be used for conventional weapons and in the nuclear industry.
Iran has been slapped by four sets of UN sanctions and additional sanctions by its archfoe Washington, and the European Union, over its controversial nuclear programme.
Western powers suspect Tehran seeks an atomic weapons capability under the guise of its civilian space and nuclear programmes, a charge it vehemently denies.
“Carbon fiber has many uses in defence fields, including in the manufacture of heat shields… the fuselages of solid fuel composite missiles, airplane wings, the fuselage of warplanes and some lightweight weaponry,” Vahidi said..
Carbon fiber can also be used in the nuclear industry, particularly for the rotors of centrifuges to enrich uranium, according to experts.
Enriched uranium can be used to produce both the fuel for a nuclear reactor and the fissile material for an atomic warhead.
Iran has increased in the past two years the development, testing and unveiling of new “indigenous” military equipment, including missiles, and regularly boasts about developing them with substantial range and capabilities.
Western military experts, however, cast doubt over its claims.