Iranian President: We Can Restore Our Nuclear Program Whenever We Want

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that his country is capable of fully restoring its nuclear program if the nuclear deal falls apart.

If the global negotiating powers refuse to fulfill their commitments, Iran “will be completely prepared, and, in terms of nuclear capabilities, we are at such a level so as to be able to reach our desired stage in a short period of time,” warned Rouhani at a Tehran ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal is formally known.

Rouhani’s claims run counter to the Obama administration’s repeated insistence that the deal blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon even if it cheats or otherwise fails to comply with its terms.

Rouhani also praised the JCPOA for lifting restrictions on arms sales to Iran, but complained that “in some fields, including banking, we still haven’t reached the expected level” of reintegration. European banks have so far refused to open up to Iran in order to avoid being implicated in Iran’s support of terrorism and widespread corruption, despite urging by Secretary of State John Kerry. Central Bank of Iran governor Vahiolla Seif threatened in April that the nuclear deal would collapse the United States didn’t do more to integrate Iran into the international finance system.

American and Iranian officials confirmed this week that the U.S. spent $8.6 million to buy excess “heavy water” from Iran to ensure that Iran’s heavy water stockpile stays below the JCPOA’s limits. Heavy water can be used in certain reactors to breed weaponizable plutonium from natural uranium.