WASHINGTON — The White House said today that Iran’s announcement it would work on maritime nuclear vessels “does not run counter to the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Iran said that the United States violated the P5+1 deal through the long-term extension of the Iran Sanctions Act passed by Congress a couple of weeks ago, thus allowing them to act as if the deal is invalidated.
Iran Press TV reported that President Hassan Rouhani “ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to plan work on nuclear propulsion devices to be used in sea transport…as well as the fuel required for them.”
Rouhani wants a plan back on his desk within three months, the government-owned Iranian outlet said.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters it’s “not likely a coincidence” that Iran announce the move after Obama signed the sanctions bill.
“But we’ve been clear, even through much of the congressional debate in Congress about the Iran Sanctions Act, that the president would not sign it into law a piece of legislation that undermined the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he added, noting “we’ve explained that quite clearly in public and we’ve explained that in private to the Iranians.”
“At the same time, the announcement from the Iranians today does not run counter to the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We continue to be able to watch closely Iran’s nuclear program; starting in the uranium mills and throughout the nuclear supply chain.”
Earnest said Washington’s “expectation is that as they undertake these kinds of, you know, research and development efforts, they’ll do so consistent with their international obligations.”
He said one shouldn’t “be particularly concerned” about Iran scaling up their activities in response to future congressional action.
“There are a range of Iranian activities that are a source of concern to the international community and to President Obama outside the scope of the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The reason that we pursued that international agreement is because Iran’s ability to get access to and potentially use a nuclear weapon was the number one concern of the United States and the international community with regard to Iran,” Earnest said. “So we’ve taken that top concern off the table without firing a single shot. And this is something that even the harshest critics of the deal acknowledge has been accomplished.”
He added there “are other concerns that we have about Iran’s behavior that include their support for terrorist organizations and other destabilizing elements in the Middle East like Hezbollah.”
“We are concerned about the way that Iran continues to menace Israel. And we continue to be concerned about the Iranian regime’s lack of respect for basic universal human rights. And we have a variety of ways of countering all of that activity,” Earnest continued. “Some of that involves additional financial sanctions. Some of that involves close cooperation with our partners in the region. But the number one objective of the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons was to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And that objective has been achieved. And because of our ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear program, we can verify the ongoing success of that effort.”
“And it certainly is something that makes the world a safer place. It enhances the national security of our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel. It enhances the national security of our NATO partners in — NATO allies in Europe. And it enhances the national security of the American people. It will be an important part of President Obama’s foreign policy legacy.”