Washington: The White House downplayed a directive from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to local scientists to start developing systems for nuclear-powered marine vessels.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's remarks came after news report from Tehran said that the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has asked his scientists to develop nuclear- propulsion system for ships.
"The announcement from the Iranians today does not run counter to the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We continue to be able to watch closely Iran's nuclear programme; starting in the uranium mills and throughout the nuclear supply chain," Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
Iran's news agency IRNA yesterday said Rouhani assigned chief of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran to manufacture atomic propeller for ships.
He cited delays in implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by the US and breach of the deal by extension of Iran Sanctions Act, as a reason to do so.
The White House agreed with the experts assessment that the timing of the announcement to coincide with US President Barack Obama signing of the Iran Sanctions Act is not likely a coincidence.
"We have been clear, even through much of the congressional debate in Congress about the Iran Sanctions Act, that the President would not sign it into law a piece of legislation that undermined the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," he said, adding that the extension of the Iran Sanctions Act does not undermine the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Earnest said the Iranian announcement "is an unprecedented insight" into any country's nuclear programme and "allows us to verify their ongoing compliance" with that programme.
"Our expectation is that as they undertake these kinds of research and development efforts, they'll do so consistent with their international obligations," he said.
There are a range of Iranian activities that are a source of concern to the international community and to Obama outside the scope of the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"The reason that we pursued that international agreement is because Iran's ability to get access to and potentially use a nuclear weapon was the number one concern of the United States and the international community with regard to Iran,"he said.
At the same time, Earnest said there are a number of areas of concerns for the international community when it comes to Iran.
(With agency inputs)