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Iran is threatening to walk away from the nuclear deal with the United States and pursue forms of retaliation, including a national boycott of American goods, as a result of Congress’s overwhelming vote on Thursday to level new sanctions against Iran for another 10 years, according to multiple comments by senior Iranian officials.
Following the Senate’s 99-0 vote to renew economic sanctions on Tehran, senior Iranian officials said the United States is in violation of last summer’s nuclear deal and that Iran is prepared to retaliate, which could include abandoning the agreement.
The comments come as the Obama administration scrambles to preserve the deal in its final months in office, ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has been assembling a cabinet filled with fierce opponents of the accord.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran doesn’t see any necessity to reveal this issue [its reactions] but we have made necessary predictions before, meaning that we are well prepared to show reaction,” Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying on Friday in the country’s state-controlled press.
The new sanctions, Salahi said, “explicitly violate the nuclear deal.”
Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani hotly criticized the United States during Iran’s weekly national Friday prayer service, urging the country’s leaders to retaliate against America.
“Nothing but hostility is expected from the U.S., but as said before, now it’s time for retaliation,” the cleric was quoted as saying.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered similar remarks last month, as the Obama administration was working behind-the-scenes to prevent Congress from pursuing the new sanctions.
“If this extension is implemented and comes into force, it will certainly be a violation of the nuclear deal and they should know that the Islamic Republic of Iran will certainly show reaction,” Khamenei said at the time.
Iran’s Parliament is now taking steps to counter the sanctions by enacting its own national boycott of U.S. goods.
The “double-urgency plan” would ban all U.S. consumer goods from Iran.
“Given the U.S. hostile measure, meaning extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years, a double-urgency plan to ban purchase of the U.S.-made consumer goods has been prepared in the parliament,” Mohammad Reza Tabesh, a senior Iranian parliament member, was quoted as telling Iran’s state-controlled press on Friday.
The plan is expected to overwhelmingly pass Iran’s Parliament.
Iran’s military is also taking increasingly hostile steps on the heels of the sanctions vote.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp’s naval faction is increasing patrols outside of Iranian waters in a bid to stop any vessels from coming near the Islamic Republic.
“The Iranian Navy, along with the IRGC Navy, are monitoring all moves by the regional and trans-regional states in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman, and the Northern parts of the Indian Ocean, and do not allow any vessel to approach the Islamic Republic of Iran’s borders or inflict damage on our interests and resources,” Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the commander of Iran’s Navy, said during a Friday speech.
The comments come as Iran makes provocative maneuvers against U.S. forces in the region. Late last month, Iranian vessels pointed an anti-aircraft weapon at U.S. helicopters that were flying nearby in a move the Pentagon described as highly provocative and dangerous.