Iran is building a new destroyer, to be ready by next year, and developing nuclear-fueled ships and submarines, the commander of the Iranian Navy said this week.
Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said the Navy was aiming “to accomplish this task [of building a new destroyer] in the current year” — meaning by the end of the Iranian year which ends in March, according to the semi-official Fars new agency.
Sayyari also said Iranian scientists were looking into ways to develop nuclear-fueled ships and submarines.
Officials say the work will be done within the framework of the 2015 nuclear deal with the P5+1 world powers by which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for having punishing international sanctions lifted.
The historic accord has been put into question in recent months as US President Donald Trump has threatened several times in recent months to scrap and/or amend the agreement, saying that Iran’s missile program could give it the technical know-how for a delivery system for a nuclear warhead when a sunset clause in the deal expires in 2025.
Trump is due to report to Congress on October 15 on whether or not he believes Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal. If he decides that it is not, it could open the way for renewed US sanctions and perhaps the collapse of the agreement. Trump said last week he had made his decision, but was not yet ready to reveal it.
Iran said plans to produce nuclear fuel and propulsion systems for ships and submarines were discussed with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano.
“We will certainly carry the job within the framework of the nuclear deal and the safeguard agreements and will not do anything beyond that,” said Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi, according to Fars.
Tehran has ratcheted up tensions with the US in recent weeks, most recently by testing over the weekend a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel and US bases in the Gulf, prompting Trump to declare that the landmark nuclear deal was “not much of an agreement.”
Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.