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EghtesadOnline: The White House says Iran's decision to develop nuclear propellers for its marine vessels is not going to establish a contradiction to the nuclear deal reached between Tehran and major world powers.

The White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told a recent news briefing that Washington is certain any such nuclear development is going to take place within the framework of Iran's commitments to the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, according to IRNA. 

'The announcement from the Iranians today does not run counter to the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,' Earnest said.

President Hassan Rouhani in a letter on Tuesday ordered Iranian scientists, 'in line with the development of a peaceful nuclear program' of the country, to plan production of fuel for nuclear-powered marine vessels.

In his order, President Rouhani, preserved the Islamic Republic the right to use all the mechanisms provided by the JCPOA to react against any violation of the nuclear deal by other parties.

In what Iran sees as a blatant violation of the JCPOA, the US Senate has renewed Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) to extend for an another ten-year period the US sanctions against the country. 

Outgoing US president Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure into law, despite his previous efforts to persuade the Congress not to extend the act. 

'With regard to recent (US Congressional) legislation to extend the Iran Sanctions Act, I order the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to, in reaction to renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act that amounts to the violation of the nuclear deal, plan the design and construction of a nuclear propeller to be used in marine transportation, President Rouhani said.

Experts argue, on the other hand, that Iran requires increasing the level of its uranium enrichment to develop the nuclear fuel it needs for its nuclear-powered vessels.

Under the JCPOA, Iran is not allowed to enrich uranium above a 3.67 percent purity for 15 years, a level unlikely to be enough to run such vessels.

'On the basis of international experience, were Iran to go ahead with such a (nuclear propulsion) project, it would have to increase its enrichment level,' said Mark Hibbs, nuclear expert and senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

But a Russian Foreign Ministry source told RIA news agency that a closer look at Rouhani's order reveals that he is calling the Iranian scientists to only develop power-supply units for nuclear-powered marine vessels, and there is no suggestion in the letter about enriching uranium to higher levels.

So 'strictly speaking' this is not going to contravene the nuclear deal, the source said.

JCPOA Josh Earnest Iran deal nuclear-powered vessels