Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned President Donald Trump that the Islamic republic could rapidly restart its nuclear program if more U.S. sanctions are imposed on it, during a fiery address Tuesday.
Rouhani’s warning follows heavy U.S. sanctions placed on the revolutionary regime for its advanced ballistic missile program. “If America wants to go back to the experience (of imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time — not a week or a month but within hours — to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations,” he declared.
Iranian lawmakers gathered Sunday to vote for more spending towards ballistic missile programs while chanting “death to America.”
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have skyrocketed under the Trump administration after the president accused the Islamic republic of “violating the spirit” of the 2015 nuclear deal. Trump pledged repeatedly throughout the 2016 campaign to rip up the Iran deal, but has so far continued to certify the Islamic republic’s technical compliance with the deal.
The Trump administration has, however, taken great pains to emphasize its belief that Iran is violating the spirit of the deal with its continued terrorism sponsorship and ballistic missile program. Trump defiantly declared “If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago,” in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Trump is required to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the deal every 90 days to the U.S. Congress under the terms of the deal. “It’s easier to say they comply. It’s a lot easier. But it’s the wrong thing. They don’t comply. And so we’ll see what happens. I mean, we’ll talk about this subject in 90 days. But, yeah, I would be – I would be surprised if they were in compliance,” he continued.
If Trump does not certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal within the next 90-day cycle it would trigger additional sanctions on the Islamic republic, and likely scuttle the entire deal. Proponents of staying within the deal reportedly told Trump that withdrawing from the deal would essentially allow the regime to keep all of the sanctions relief money it got in 2015-2016 while not having to comply with nuclear site inspections.
Opponents of the deal, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, emphasize Iran’s continued ballistic missile activity and nefarious influence in the Middle East.