AFP — Dec 13, 2016
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday ordered the country’s scientists to start work on nuclear-powered ships in response to the expected renewal of sanctions by the United States.
In letters read out on state television, Rouhani criticized the US move as a breach of last year’s nuclear accord and told Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation to start work on “planning the design and production of nuclear fuel and reactors for maritime transport.”
The president said he had also ordered the foreign ministry to prepare a legal complaint to the international committee that oversees the nuclear accord.
Under the deal signed in July 2015, world powers agreed to lift international sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program.
But US lawmakers recently voted to renew 10-year-old sanctions legislation against Iran related not just to nuclear issues, but also ballistic missile-testing and human rights.
US President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure into law in the coming days, saying it makes no difference to last year’s agreement because the White House will continue to suspend all the sanctions linked to Iran’s nuclear program.
Iranian lawmakers had raised the prospect of building nuclear-powered ships and submarines back in 2012 at the height of tensions with the international community over the nuclear program.
International analysts said the announcement was likely just a bluff, since it would be an extremely costly effort for little strategic gain.
Then nuclear chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani said that Iran had the capacity to design nuclear reactors for ships but no plans to do so.
He also said that nuclear-powered ships did not require the sort of highly enriched uranium which could also be used for weapons.
Agreement wording ambiguous