Iran has begun development of its own nuclear-powered submarines, FARS news agency reported on Tuesday quoting the Iranian fleet's deputy commander Vice-Admiral Abbas Zamini.
Commenting on Iran's growing capabilities in domestic submarine development, Zamini said the Islamic Republic is already taking the first steps toward creating nuclear-powered boats.
"Right now we are at the initial stages of creating nuclear submarines," he said.
Use of atomic energy for submarine propulsion is not in contravention of any international agreements, he noted.
The United States and many European states suspect Iran of using its domestic civil nuclear program as a cover for a nuclear weapons development program, a charge Tehran denies, insisting the program is only for generating electricity.
In mid-February, the United States increased the sanctions it has in place against Iran, which is also under a range of sanctions following four UN Security Council resolutions regarding its nuclear program.
The Iranian Navy currently operates three Russian-built Project 877 (Kilo class) diesel-electric submarines and a few very small domestically-made boats.
Currently, only the navies of China, France, India, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States operate nuclear-powered submarines. Israel operates conventionally-powered submarines which may be armed with a nuclear-tipped cruise missile according to German officials quoted in Israel's Haaretz newspaper.