Navy ships with nuclear reactors are set to make the first deployment to Iran in a decade as the Trump administration pushes for a new arms embargo.
The Navy’s new nuclear cruiser USS Fitzgerald (CVN 70) will join a Navy shipyard in South Carolina for testing of a new, larger, nuclear reactor, the Navy said Wednesday.
Fitzgerald, a nuclear-powered ship with three nuclear reactors, is scheduled to join the Seawolf shipyard at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for trials of the new reactor in early 2019.
It’s the first nuclear powered ship in a Navy fleet since the decommissioning of the USS Vincennes in 2005.
The Vincenses nuclear submarine had a nuclear reactor on board that was used to produce weapons-grade plutonium for the nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union and the United States.
A US Navy spokesman said the Navy was still waiting for approval to send the Vincenes to Iran.
“It will allow us to further explore and further refine our nuclear weapons program and capabilities,” said Rear Adm.
John Kirby, a Navy spokesman.
Last year, the Pentagon announced that it was seeking permission to send a nuclear missile submarine to Iran, and was considering buying the ship.
The Trump administration said at the time that the missile submarine would be armed with two nuclear weapons and would be capable of delivering the weapons.
The Fitzgerald is expected to be ready for delivery in 2020, according to Navy officials.
It will be the first ship to enter service under the new policy, which allows for limited nuclear weapons testing, if required.
The Navy will not deploy the ship until the Navy completes a review of its nuclear program, Kirby said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the country will not tolerate the US military testing of its own nuclear program.
“The United States is the greatest obstacle to peace and security in the Middle East and its foreign policy is opposed to any and all attempts to establish peace in the region,” Zarif told reporters in Vienna.
“The US Navy should not go ahead with this reckless plan.
We are against the reckless plans of the US and its allies.”