Ex-AEOI chief optimistic about nuclear progress during Eslami's tenure

September 4, 2021 - 22:6

TEHRAN - Fereydoun Abbasi, former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), has backed the appointment of Mohammad Eslami as the new AEOI chief, calling him a competent person.

In an order on August 29, President Ebrahim Raisi appointed Eslami as vice president and chief of AEOI, replacing Ali Akbar Salehi who served the post since August 2013.

Eslami has master’s degree in civil engineering from Ohio University. He also holds MBA in global aviation management from the University of Sharif and Royal Rhodes University. 

However, some, including nuclear experts, say somebody should the run the AEOI who has specialty in nuclear science.  

Abbasi, a nuclear physicist, opposes such a view, saying all should help Eslami in managing the organization. 

"I expect Mr. Eslami to implement the system's strategy well, whatever it may be, and to get help from relevant experts and specialists. I am optimistic about him and I hope that this optimism will yield good results," Abbasi said in an interview with ISNA published on Saturday.

Eslami was transport and urban development minister in the Rouhani administration. He was also governor of Mazandaran province before being nominated as transport minister. Eslami also served in different managerial positions, including in the Defense Ministry.

Abbasi, now an MP sitting on the Parliament Energy Committee, said: "Many did not expect Mr. Eslami to be selected to run the Atomic Energy Organization. His name was not heard among the names mentioned in cyberspace or in speculations."

"90% of the processes of the nuclear industry are similar to the oil, petrochemical, gas and so on."

"It was raised in some circles that he will remain in the Ministry of Transport and Urban Development and is one of the ministers who will remain in this administration from the previous administration. Rostam Ghasemi was decided to become the minister of oil and eventually Mr. Oji was nominated to run the Ministry of Oil."

Abbasi noted that the Ministry of Transport and Urban Development was proper choice for Ghasemi because it was compatible with his executive and technical background. 

As a person who is familiar with international regulations and research and educational work, Eslami was fit for the job, the MP noted.

Abbasi said, "It is a common misconception in society that the nuclear industry is a mere specialty, while more than 90% of the processes of the nuclear industry are similar to oil, petrochemical, gas and so on."

Abbasi said: "One of the important parts of the nuclear industry is building reactor and the main part is the heart of the reactor. There, mechanics, heat and temperature transfer, pressure and steam generation are mattered, and these issues exist in every industry. Like other power plants that have turbines, only here it has its own turbine."

So, if someone has done industrial work, Abbasi underscored, Eslami knows a lot of the process. 

Eslami is a person who has executive background, managed factories, conducted scientific research in large industries, and has trained and guided great human resources, the MP stated.

The former nuclear chief went on to say, "Moreover, Eslami has been a governor who deals with people's lives closely. I believe we should not put stress solely on radioactivity and nuclear engineering in the management of the nuclear industry."

Abbasi suggested Eslami can appoint a deputy who has knowledge in nuclear industry and also name an expert in legal and international affairs. 

He said Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who was not a nuclear expert, ran the Atomic Energy Organization for 12 years. 

Since Aghazadeh had learned oil disciplines and knew OPEC and international negotiations, he entered the nuclear industry and used his experience, even employed Oil Ministry personnel and oil standards and promoted the nuclear industry, Abbasi stated.

The MP added: "This was while before Mr. Aghazadeh's tenure, political views governed in the Atomic Energy Organization, but during Mr. Aghazadeh's term, the engineering view prevailed and at the same time, good research work was done in the subsidiaries."

About the criteria for the appointment of Eslami, the former head of the AEOI underscored that the necessary evaluations had been done in his choice, stressing that different people with different experiences had entered the organization so far. 

"But the problem in the nuclear energy is that, unfortunately, we have not been able to train managers consistently as we had done for experts; that is, we have not seen a consistent process in this regard. While for each organizational position, 10 people should be trained and predicted," the MP reiterated.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Abbasi said, "Personally, during my short term in the organization, I made a lot of efforts for this issue to train managers in different aspects and are prepared for higher positions. If this trend had continued, we would have surely had a number of managers in various specialties today. In my opinion, no effort has been made in the last eight years, and the circle of managers and the rotation of managements has been limited."

Regarding the characteristics of the new head of AEOI, Abbasi said, "Mr. Eslami has been the head of the Defense Industry Training and Research Institute. Usually, the military personnel have to move within the borders of knowledge, and the Ministry of Defense, which is missioned to defend the country by building equipment, must have a high level of academic knowledge."

"The person who runs the institute runs both the Ministry of Defense's scientific research centers and liaises with other universities. During his tenure in charge of this institute, Mr. Eslami has been in contact with all universities in the country in the field of technology and engineering, and is also familiar with most of the country's defense complex. In addition, as I said above, his experiences in the field of roads and urban planning, governorate, etc. are important."

In response to a question that Eslami's experiences in defense field may put pressure on him, The MP answered: "No. This is by no means a weakness. The field of defense means the high scientific and technical level of the country. The best forces we train in universities are active in the field of defense. In this field, television and computers are also built."

"It is not the case that we link this part to the defense parts. The scientific and technical development of the countries of the world has started in some military sectors. A reactor is an energy system that contains many sciences and has nothing to do with defense," Abbasi highlighted.

The member of the Energy Commission of the Parliament stated: "We should put the best professor of nuclear engineering at the head of the Atomic Energy Organization and if he has no managerial experience in this field and in technical and industrial fields, he will have no effectiveness."

About the priorities that Eslami should address during his tenure, the former the AEOI director noted: "Mr. Eslami should think of several matters at once; the first is that the nuclear issue is an ongoing challenge, and in this context, we must continue negotiations to resolve the country's problems. We must provide technical and legal support to the (nuclear) negotiating team. This is what was done during my term and has been done until now and should continue from now on."

"Second is energy production. We have a reactor in operation, where technical support, supply of parts and tools should be a priority, and in general, maintaining it is very important. The first unit of the Bushehr power plant has been active for 10 years and is one of the country's priorities, so debts must be paid and fuel supply must be a priority.

We also have two other reactors under construction that are behind schedule for construction and commissioning; they had to go into orbit in current (Iranian) year, which has not been possible so far, so Eslami have to do something to complete these two reactors in 4 years."

Referring to the administration's responsibility, he said, "In this regard, the administration should help reactors become operational in a timely manner, and also plan according to the order of the Ministry of Energy in supplying nuclear power so that more contracts for the construction of the reactor are concluded, as the Ministry of Energy says. In addition, small reactors and accelerators should be considered." 

He noted, “The use of radiation is not only effective in medicine but also in industry, agriculture and geology..., and this can develop the country's physics and basic sciences. This is a vast field whose turnover and capital is even greater than the field of nuclear power, and we have a good capacity in the country."

The MP underscored that these measures were possible despite the sanctions and political and nuclear restrictions and stated, "Eight years ago, we were doing this with internal power. We proceeded three small reactors relying on the improvement of facilities in Shiraz, Tabriz and Mashhad, and we were in the early stages of work."

Abbasi added: "We talk a lot regarding smelting, but how to make a surge in this field. I believe that the technical support of the engineering that we have in centrifuges and lasers should be managed and we should use it in support of theoretical issues in smelting issues."

"We must prevent going beyond the knowledge in our command and development of centrifuges. We should not constantly pursue higher SWUs. Of course, it is not bad to produce SWU 1000, but if we can have a stable SWU, for example SWU 10, it is good, and now we have to move towards the industrialization of that machine and take the technology to other fields, including smelting, to compete with countries and participate in global projects in the field of smelting. The construction of particle accelerators is also very important in this area," the MP highlighted.

He stressed that the preparations for all the above have been done in the country, noting "We just do not have the necessary coherence for their development, and we hope that Mr. Eslami will make this coherence during his term of office.”

Leave a Comment

0 + 0 =