Iran Threatens Nuclear Program Could Resume in Hours to Advanced State

August 15, 2017 Updated: August 15, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned Iran could resume its nuclear program “within hours” should the United States impose sanctions in response to Iran’s ballistic missile program.

“(If the U.S. were to impose further 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,” Rouhani told MPs during a live broadcast of a session of Parliament in Tehran on Tuesday, Aug. 15.

On the previous Sunday, Iran’s Parliament voted to increase the country’s military budget for its ballistic missile program and foreign operations by $800 million in response to new U.S. sanctions over its ballistic missile program.

Rouhani has accused the Trump administration of ignoring international agreements and not honoring its word.

Iran froze its nuclear program in 2015 under an agreement with world powers that saw it dramatically reduce its ability to enrich uranium and limit those efforts to fuel for its nuclear reactors.

The nuclear deal was reached in 2015 with the United States, Russia, China, and three European powers.

But Iran and the United States disagreed over aspects of the deal almost immediately, with the United States issuing a fact sheet laying out details of the deal that Rouhani blasted as deceptive.

“Hours after the #talks, Americans offered a fact sheet that most of it was contrary to what was agreed.They always deceive &breach promises,” tweeted Rouhani in April 2015, shortly after negotiations concluded.

“No unconventional inspection that’d place Iran under special monitoring is acceptable. Foreign monitoring on #Iran’s security isn’t allowed,” tweeted Rouhani.

While the United States maintained the deal was independent of its sanctions over other elements of Iran foreign and domestic policy, Iran argued sanctions would need to be lifted immediately.

The United States also argued that the deal would allow sanctions over Iran’s missile programs to continue.

In January 2016, the United States lifted most of its sanctions on Iran after getting confirmation the country appeared to be keeping to the deal though some unilateral U.S. sanctions remained in place.

But the United States said Iran’s ongoing ballistic missiles tests violate a U.N. resolution, which endorsed the nuclear deal and called upon Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

Tehran argues its missiles are designed to deliver satellites rather than nuclear weapons.

In late July, the U.S. Treasury imposed new sanctions on six subordinates of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), “an entity central to Iran’s ballistic missile program,” said the Department of the Treasury.

The sanctions came after the country launched a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit.

“The U.S. government will continue to aggressively counter Iran’s ballistic missile-related activity, whether it be a provocative space launch, its development of threatening ballistic missile systems, or likely support to Yemeni Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia such as occurred this past weekend,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement.

The sanctions are unilateral and only apply to U.S. persons and within U.S. jurisdictions, though banks and foreign financial firms that participate in the program could be locked out of the U.S. financial system or have their U.S. assets frozen.