Angered by the US Congress decision to renew the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), President Rouhani ordered Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization to plan and design the production of nuclear fuel and reactors for maritime transport. In other words – to plan nuclear powered ships.
Before we look into this strange impulsive need for nuclear powered ships, let’s examine whether the ISA justifies anger.
As reported in yahoo news, the renewal of the ISA bill makes no difference whatsoever, since the White House will continue to suspend all sanctions linked to Iran’s nuclear program.
The washingtonpost reporting on this affair quoted the White House as describing the bill as “certainly not a violation of the International accord”. In a separate piece in iran2407 they also conclude that renewing ISA is no breach of the agreement. It is clear common sense – If there is no change to the existing situation, this cannot be a breach of the agreement.
In Iran eyes, the US, of course, has no justification to be angered. No matter that Iran has humiliated US servicemen and continues to aim and fire at US warships (see dailywire or newsmax) – that of course is no reason for anger. No matter that Iran harasses American dual citizens (see wsj and iranprimer) and holds American captives as human pawns in political games (see nypost) – that’s no reason for anger. No matter that Iran continues the “Death to America” calls with the support of the leadership (see huffingtonpost) and spreads anti American rhetoric (see blogs.wsj) – that’s no reason for anger. But, Iran is angered.
So what are these nuclear powered boats for?
The washingtonpost concludes that the technology is predominantly used in military applications, like in submarines and aircraft carriers. Yahoo quotes international analysts saying that this announcement was likely “just a bluff”, since it would be an extremely costly effort for little strategic gain.
The easiest scenario would be to propose that the Iranian quest is just a bluff. Some would like us to believe that when Iran is angered, instead of throwing things or shouting, it proposes, for no reason and with no real intention, to develop nuclear powered military warfare.
Taking into consideration Iran’s behavior, especially in the naval maritime field, it would seem that this is not an idle threat. Going through the list of naval incidents between the US and Iran (see list in sandiegouniontribune) it would seem that one should not take such an intention statement lightly. As reported in truthandaction, only recently the Iranian Commander of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, threatened to kill American soldiers and sink US vessels.
So perhaps the development of nuclear powered military ships has no strategic value for the Iranians, and it is just a way to let off steam and blow some excess funding coming in from the nuclear deal. It could also be a future threat to the US.