Jan 16, 2020

By Jane Brown

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Iran’s president said Thursday that there is “no limit” to the country’s enrichment of uranium following Iran’s decision to abandon its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal in response to the killing of its top general in a U.S. airstrike.

In a speech before the heads of banks in Tehran, Hassan Rouhani said the nuclear program is in a “better situation” than it was before the nuclear agreement with world powers.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement in May 2018, in part because it did not address Iran’s support for armed groups across the region and its ballistic missile program. The U.S. has since imposed “maximum” sanctions on Iran’s economy.

Britain, France and Germany have spent months trying to salvage the deal, but have not found a way to continue trading with Iran amid the tightened U.S. sanctions. Earlier this week, they triggered a dispute mechanism in the nuclear deal to try to bring Iran back into compliance. That process could lead to the snapback of international sanctions.

Under the nuclear deal, Iran was promised relief from international sanctions and re-integration with the world economy in exchange for curbing its nuclear activities.

Instead, the renewed U.S. sanctions have cratered its economy. The value of the local currency has plunged, wiping out many people’s life savings, and prices have steadily risen. Protests erupted in November over an increase in gasoline prices, with more than 300 people reportedly killed. Iranian authorities have not released an official death toll.

In his speech today, Rouhani acknowledged that the sanctions had caused economic pain. But he said economic considerations could not be separate from foreign policy and national security, indicating that Iran will not give in to sweeping demands by the United States.

He also acknowledged the steadily rising tensions with the United States.

“A single bullet can cause a war, and not shooting a single bullet can lead to peace,” he said, adding that his administration is seeking greater security.

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