Tehran hits back at U.S. with plans for nu­clear navy power

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY AMIR VADHAT AND JON GAMBRELL

TEHRAN | Iran’s pres­i­dent on Tues­day or­dered of­fi­cials to draw up plans to build nu­clear-pow­ered ships and to show how the United States vi­o­lated last year’s nu­clear deal, a re­sponse to a vote by Congress to ex­tend some sanc­tions on the coun­try.

Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani was re­spond­ing to an ex­ten­sion of the Iran Sanc­tions Act, a move widely seen as pos­tur­ing that would not af­fect the land­mark nu­clear deal with world pow­ers.

The sanc­tions act awaits Pres­i­dent Obama’s sig­na­ture amid spec­u­la­tion over how Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, a critic of the nu­clear deal, will ad­dress the is­sue when he as­sumes of­fice next month.

Mr. Rouhani’s let­ter, read aloud on state tele­vi­sion and pub­lished by the of­fi­cial IRNA news agency, gave Ali Ak­bar Salehi of Iran’s Atomic En­ergy Or­ga­ni­za­tion three months to come up with a plan for nu­cle­ar­pow­ered ships and pro­duc­ing fuel for them. A sep­a­rate let­ter or­dered For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif to “fol­low up on the U.S. vi­o­la­tions” of the nu­clear deal.

Mr. Rouhani “said the mea­sures were war­ranted in light of the United States’ foot-drag­ging in ful­fill­ing its com­mit­ments un­der the mul­ti­lat­eral nu­clear deal … and the re­cent rat­i­fi­ca­tion of anti-Iran legislation in the U.S. Congress,” state tele­vi­sion re­ported.

For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif said Iran has sent two let­ters in re­cent months to EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini to protest the sanc­tions legislation, which he called a vi­o­la­tion of the nu­clear deal, IRNA re­ported.

The U.S. bill, first passed by Congress in 1996 and re­newed sev­eral times since then, al­lows Amer­ica to im­pose eco­nomic sanc­tions on com­pa­nies for do­ing busi­ness with Iran. It has drawn anger from Iran, which wrote to the United Na­tions over it and held a high-level meet­ing last week over how to re­spond.

The White House has de­scribed the bill as un­nec­es­sary but said it didn’t vi­o­late the in­ter­na­tional ac­cord signed by six world pow­ers and Iran. Mr. Obama is ex­pected to sign it into law.

Mr. Trump has vowed to rene­go­ti­ate the Iran deal af­ter his in­au­gu­ra­tion, but he has not of­fered specifics.

The nu­clear deal lim­its Iran’s abil­ity to en­rich ura­nium in ex­change for the lift­ing of some in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic sanc­tions. It al­lows Iran to con­duct peace­ful atomic re­search.

Mr. Rouhani’s let­ter did not elab­o­rate on what use the coun­try had for nu­cle­ar­pow­ered ships. How­ever, the tech­nol­ogy is used pre­dom­i­nantly in mil­i­tary ap­pli­ca­tions such as sub­marines and air­craft car­ri­ers.

In June 2012, an Ira­nian ad­mi­ral was re­ported as say­ing the coun­try had be­gun to de­sign its first nu­clear sub­ma­rine, though the project never came to fruition. Iran has no air­craft car­ri­ers but op­er­ates a fleet of con­ven­tion­ally pow­ered Rus­sian and lo­cally made sub­marines.

Iran’s move to­ward nu­clear-pow­ered ships ap­pears to be per­mit­ted un­der the nu­clear deal, de­pend­ing on the type of fuel used, said David Mort­lock, who once served as di­rec­tor of in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic affairs at the White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

“[The U.S.] has been bad­ger­ing Rus­sia with ac­cu­sa­tions and blam­ing it for ev­ery­thing. And now there is a back­lash to that in Rus­sia. Rus­sia wants to have friendly ties with Amer­ica, but it’s dif­fi­cult to do that when Rus­sia sees that it’s be­ing cheated.”

— For­mer Soviet and Rus­sian leader Mikhail Gor­bachev, in an in­ter­view ahead of the 25th an­niver­sary of the col­lapse of the Soviet Union, say­ing U.S. pol­icy bears heavy re­spon­si­bil­ity for the cur­rent ten­sions be­tween Moscow and the West

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