TEHRAN – After the US Congress extended its sanctions on Iran for 10 years in early December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on December 13 in retaliation ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to work on the planning of the design and production of nuclear-powered vessels in order to use them in maritime sector.

Rouhani accused the US government of violating the nuclear deal by doing ‘cunctation and nonfeasance’ hitherto, and based on his two separated decrees addressing the Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and the Head of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, ordered to enforce the predicted procedures of violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

He requested a study of fuel production for the propulsion system and set a three-month deadline for a progress report on both steps.

Meanwhile, the White House spokesman Josh Earnest in a news briefing said: “the announcement from the Iranians does not run counter to the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon”.

A day after the press conference, Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top foreign policy adviser, spoke to journalists and said Americans have to know that at the end of the day they would hurt and the step of their President is the first step, not the last.

The P5+1 and Iran reached an agreement on July 14, 2015 and accordingly the sanctions were supposed to be lifted in exchange for curbing of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Two days later, a renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act took effect with a procedural protest from President Barack Obama, who decided to let the legislation imposing US restrictions on Iran’s missile programme become law without his signature.

The White House issued a statement early Thursday saying Obama believes the 10-year extension of presidential authority to sanction Iran “does not affect in any way our ability to fulfill our commitments” in the agreement with Tehran to restrain its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

While already Donald Trump has vowed to scrap the deal, this response of Iran’s government could lead to the increase of tensions between Tehran and Washington after he takes office in January 2017. “[Trump] wants to do many things, but none of his actions would affect us,” Rouhani criticised the recently elected US President during a speech at the University of Tehran last week.

Aida Amir Aslani, Correspondent (Asia: Middle East)