Iran continued with its threats to resume its nuclear program at a “much greater speed” if the United States were to resume sanctions or leave the nuclear deal.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif addressed the nuclear deal, Israel and Syria during an interview with CBS and when speaking to the press over the weekend, threatening to resume uranium enrichment if additional US sanctions were placed.
On the Trump Administration’s plans to place sanctions on the Islamic Republic, the minister warned that Iran has several options “including options that would involve resuming at a much greater speed our nuclear activities,” a threat Iran has reiterated in public forums for months. He warned previously that Iran “will make a decision based on our national security interests when the times comes. But whatever that decision will be, it won’t be very pleasant to the United States.”
When addressing Israel’s strikes in Syria, Zarif claimed “I do not believe that we are headed towards regional war,” but did claim Israel “escalated tension by violating Syrian airspace, by violating Syrian territory on a routine basis,” accusing Israel of “continued its violations with international law, hoping to be able to do it with impunity because of US support and trying to find smokescreens to hide behind.”
He quickly denied any involvement in Assad’s chemical weapons program, stating “Iran has been a victim of chemical weapons. We have rejected the use of chemical weapons regardless of the victims or culprits, regardless of the victims or perpetrators.”
On Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani claimed Iran’s economy would not be impacted if the US pulled out of the nuclear deal, also threatening resumption of its nuclear program stating, “Our Atomic Energy Organization is fully prepared… for actions that they expect and actions they do not expect.” He stated “I promise the people [of Iran] that the plot of the enemy has been thwarted, and whether or not the nuclear deal remains in effect, we will have no problem.”
Speaking during an IDF General Staff Forum on Sunday commemorating Israel’s 70 years of independence, Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Iran. He stated “I heard today the remarks of the Iranian Foreign Minister who accused Israel of violating international law. This is the foreign minister of a country that sends armed UAVs against Israel and missiles at Saudi Arabia. I also heard his moderate remarks and there is a tremendous gap between his words and the actions of the Revolutionary Guards which are moving an army against Israel with the avowed goal of destroying the State of Israel. I am not impressed by words. I rely on this forum and on the Israel Defense Forces which are prepared for any possibility and any scenario. I raise a glass to the State of Israel and the IDF.”
President Trump will decide in May whether to place sanctions on Iran. As US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has made clear, the United States wants to ensure “that the influence of Iran doesn’t take over the area. They continue to cause problems throughout the region, and we want to make sure that there is a hold.”
This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, April 23, 2018, and reposted with permission.