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Iran, angered by US sanctions bill, considers atomic boats

Published:Wednesday | December 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani.


Iran's president yesterday 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 the US Congress to extend some sanctions on the country.

The move by President Hassan Rouhani came in response to the extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, and was widely seen as posturing that would not affect the landmark nuclear deal concluded with world powers.

The Sanctions Act awaits President Barack Obama's signature to become law, and comes amid speculation over how President-elect Donald Trump, a critic of the nuclear deal, will address the issue when he assumes office next month.

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 Organisation three months to come up with a plan for nuclear-powered ships and producing fuel for them. A separate letter ordered Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to "follow up on the US violations" of the nuclear deal.

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 US Congress," state television reported.

The US 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 did not violate the international accord signed by six world powers and Iran. Obama is expected to sign it into law ahead of the inauguration of Trump, who has vowed to renegotiate the Iran deal without offering 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.