Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened a response Wednesday if the U.S. extends sanctions against his country for another 10 years, just days after the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of an extension.
Khamenei, who has final say in most matters of state, didn’t say what action Iran would take if the sanctions are extended. The House voted almost unanimously last week to keep the Iran Sanctions Act in place for a decade more following its expiration at the end of this year.
Such an extension would violate the landmark nuclear deal brokered last year between Iran and six world powers including the U.S., Mr. Khamenei said in comments published to his official website, Khamenei.ir.
“If this sanction is put in place, it’s a violation of the [nuclear deal] and they should know that the Islamic Republic will certainly react against it,” he said.
Iran’s commitments under the deal include a reduction in the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges in operation, limits to the amount of nuclear material in its possession and international oversight of its nuclear program.
The House vote to renew the act signals wide agreement on a hard-line approach to Iran despite President Barack Obama’s nuclear diplomacy.
Any extension of the sanctions act, originally put in place in 1996 during President Bill Clinton’s administration, still requires the approval of the Senate and the signature of Mr. Obama. It is set to expire at the end of this year, before Mr. Trump takes office in January.
The act is a key curb on dealings with Iran, outlining restrictions on trade and investment in the country’s energy sector.
For Iran, the extension of sanctions would fuel domestic concerns that the country is being unfairly prevented from reaping economic benefits it is set to receive as a result of the nuclear deal.
Those worries have mounted as large Western banks, skittish over lingering political risks of doing business with Iran, have largely shied from reconnecting with the country.
Under the nuclear deal, which took effect in January, Iran agreed to put curbs on its disputed nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations.
The Obama administration agreed to waive sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program, including some outlined in the Iran Sanctions Act. Other sanctions that relate to Iran’s human-rights record and support for terrorism remain in place.