Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday warned the US that it will face serious consequences should it pull out of a landmark nuclear deal that Washington says falls short of preventing Iran from producing atomic weapons.
“I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will react firmly,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television, according to Reuters.
“If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences,” he added.
US President Donald Trump is threatening to tear up the 2015 agreement aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear efforts unless European capitals agree to supplement it with tougher controls on Tehran’s missile program and future ability to return to nuclear fuel enrichment.
Iran has been upping the rhetoric in return, with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warning Saturday that Tehran was ready to “vigorously” resume uranium enrichment if the US ditched the accord.
Zarif told reporters in New York that Iran is not seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb, but that its “probable” response to a US withdrawal would be to restart production of enriched uranium – a key bomb-making ingredient.
Trump has set a May 12 deadline for the Europeans to “fix” the agreement, which provided for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from financial sanctions.
The fate of the deal was to be a key issue during French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington that began Monday, which is to be followed by talks between the US president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.
European officials say Trump’s demand to reopen the deal are impossible, and are scrambling to address his concerns on Tehran’s missile testing, inspections and the regime’s behavior in the region.
On Monday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he had agreed with his Chinese counterpart that the two countries would “obstruct” any attempt by Trump to “sabotage” the nuclear deal with Iran.