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BREAKING (AP): Iranian president threatens to revitalize nuclear program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a session of parliament in Tehran, Iran on Aug. 15. | Vahid Salemi/AP




TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's president issued a direct threat to the West on Tuesday, claiming his country is capable of revitalizing its nuclear program within hours and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than when Iran reached a deal with world powers that limited its ability to produce nuclear weapons.

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 on Tuesday, 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. He did not elaborate.

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.


The U.S. and other world powers fear Iran sought the ability to produce atomic weapons. Iran has long denied that it seeks nuclear arms and says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

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