Iran's president issued a direct threat to the West yesterday, claiming his country is capable of restarting its nuclear program within hours — and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than in 2015, when Iran signed the nuclear deal with world power. Hassan Rouhani's remarks to lawmakers follow the Iranian parliament's move earlier this week to increase spending on the country's ballistic missile program and the foreign operations of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.The bill — and Rouhani's comments — are seen as a direct response to the new U.S. legislation earlier this month that imposed mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The U.S. legislation also applies terrorism sanctions to the Revolutionary Guard and enforces an existing arms embargo.
If Washington continues with "threats and sanctions" against Iran, Rouhani said in parliament yesterday, Tehran could easily restart the nuclear program.
"In an hour and a day, Iran could return to a more advanced [nuclear] level than at the beginning of the negotiations" that preceded the 2015 deal, Rouhani said.
The landmark agreement between Iran and world powers two years ago capped Iran's uranium enrichment levels in return for the lifting of international sanctions. It was not immediately clear what Rouhani was referring to — and whether he meant Iran could restart centrifuges enriching uranium to higher and more dangerous levels.