Iran Threatens to Restart Nuclear Program in ‘Hours’ if U.S. Imposes More Sanctions

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran addressing the Parliament in Tehran on Monday. Mr. Rouhani warned that Iran could abandon its 2015 nuclear deal within hours if the United States kept on imposing new sanctions.
Atta Kenare/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Iran’s nuclear program could be restarted in a matter of “hours,” if the American government imposes further sanctions on Tehran, the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said on Tuesday.

Mr. Rouhani said that a reconstituted nuclear program would be “far more advanced,” a veiled threat that the country could start enriching uranium up to the level of 20 percent, a step toward building a nuclear weapon. Such enrichment activities were a major concern before 2015, when Tehran signed a landmark agreement with the United States and other world powers that lifted crippling economic sanctions in return for severe limits on Iran’s nuclear activities.

President Trump has repeatedly called the nuclear deal a “disaster,” said that he believes the Iranians are violating its terms, and twice called for reviews, in hopes of finding reasons to kill it.

The other parties to the nuclear deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — disagree with Mr. Trump, saying that Iran is not in violation of the pact, which is overseen by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

New sanctions approved by Congress this month penalized Iran for its ballistic missile program and other activities in the region. Iran says that it has the right to conduct missile tests and that it has fully complied with the provisions of the nuclear agreement.

While Mr. Rouhani was re-elected this year, he has faced increasing pressure from hard-liners, who have said all along that the United States is not to be trusted and would never deliver on its promises. The economic benefits Mr. Rouhani promised from the signing of the nuclear deal have not been completely realized, largely because of unilateral American sanctions that have deterred much foreign investment.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Thomas Erdbrink