Last week, the White House announced that a bill will become law that extends U.S. sanctions on Iran for 10 years. Iran is now saying that is a violation of the nuclear deal that was signed in 2015. This sounds like great timing!
The Iran Sanctions Extension Act passed the Senate with a vote of 99-0 and some speculated that President Obama would veto it. But the final decision was to let the bill go through without Obama's signature. On Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest gave a statement in which he said, "This Administration has made clear that an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, while unnecessary, is entirely consistent with our commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)."
But Tehran disagrees. A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Bahram Ghasemi, warned that "The extension of sanctions by the U.S. Congress is a violation of the deal," and he cryptically said that Iran "has appropriate responses for all situations."
Officials in the U.S. say that the extension needed to happen to ensure that sanctions would "snap back" in the event that Iran violates its end of the deal.
Confusingly, Tehran's retaliation thus far has been to initiate the process of building nuclear-powered marine vessels. But the White House says that wouldn't violate the agreement because Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has insisted the vessels still be built within the frameworks of the existing deal. But nuclear experts say that this type of vessel would probably require uranium to be enriched above the maximum level that was agreed upon.
So basically, Iran says the U.S. has violated the deal. The U.S. says they didn't. Iran says that it will build a nuclear-powered vessel in retaliation. The U.S. says whatever, go for it.
Can we get a third opinion? Well, President Rouhani met with the International Atomic Energy Agency today and IAEA director general Yukiya Amano says that he is satisfied that Tehran is honouring their agreement. Iran is expected to provide further details about its marine vessels within three months.
And pew pew Rick Perry will most likely be leading the Department of Energy by then. During his failed campaign for President, he said, "one of my first actions in office would be to invalidate the president's Iran agreement, which jeopardizes the safety and security of the free world."