Dubai: Iran on Tuesday claimed that it had begun work on designing the country's first nuclear powered submarine, a technology possessed by a select group of nations.

Senior Iranian naval commander, Rear Admiral Abbas Zamini, said the country was at an "initial" phase of manufacturing atomic submarines.

The Admiral claimed that the country had made "astonishing progress" in developing and acquiring civilian nuclear technology for various power-generation, agricultural and medical purposes, and said such advancements allow Iran to think of manufacturing nuclear-fueled submarines, Iran's Fars News Agency reported.

The comments by the Lieutenant Commander of the Navy for Technical Affairs came as Tehran is at odds with the Western nations over its nuclear programme, with Washington suspecting it of developing weapons technology.

The agency said that Iran had success in repairing heavy submarines and had ability to carry out full or partial repairs of submarines.

He pointed out that using nuclear power to fuel submarines is among the civilian uses of the nuclear technology and all countries are entitled to the right to make such a use.

Only an elite group of nations -- the US, Russia, France, britain and China -- possess the technology to build a nuclear-powered submarine.

India too is nearing the official induction of its indigenous nuclear-powered submarine 'INS Arihant'.

(Agencies)

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