Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday his country prefers abiding by the 2015 international agreement on its nuclear program, but that if the United States continues “threats and sanctions” then Iran could quickly revitalize its nuclear activity to an even higher level than before the deal went into effect.
Speaking to members of parliament in a televised address, Rouhani said the U.S. is not a “good partner.”
“Those who are trying to go back to the language of threats and sanctions are prisoners of their past hallucinations,” Rouhani said. “They deprive themselves of the advantages of peace.”
Iran objects to new sanctions U.S. President Donald Trump signed earlier this month against people involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program and its Revolutionary Guard, which came in response to Iranian ballistic missile tests.
The two countries each say the other’s actions violate the spirit of the nuclear agreement.
The deal was struck after lengthy negotiations between Iran and a group that included the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany. Iran won relief from prior sanctions that certain countries and the United Nations levied in response to Iran’s nuclear activity amid allegations that Iran was working to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has repeatedly denied that was its mission, saying its nuclear program was strictly for peaceful purposes.
The agreement requires Iran to limit its nuclear program with caps on the number of centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium, the level at which the uranium can be enriched and how large its enriched stockpiles can be.
Indiana University analyst Hussein Banai told VOA that Rouhani’s comments send the message that both Iranian hardliners and moderates are united behind the country’s missile program.
The U.S. has objected to the missile tests, but they are not mentioned in the nuclear deal text. A U.N. resolution endorsing the deal has a section that calls on Iran to avoid such tests without specifically banning them.
“The missile program was not directly part of the nuclear deal, but it certainly inches very close to violating the spirit of the deal and in any event the sanctions, Iranians would argue, have done that already,” Banai said. “So I think that language of spirit versus letter of the agreement can be set aside now, we just have to watch and hope that the actual terms of the agreement are not up for violation next.”