Iran Ready to Respond If Trump Nixes Nuclear Deal

Iran can easily snap back its nuclear activities not only to where it was before the deal, but a much higher position technologically speaking
Ali Akbar SalehiAli Akbar Salehi

Iran is reserving judgment on new US President Donald Trump, but if he does, as he has vowed, "tear up" the international deal Tehran reached on curbing its nuclear program, it could quickly ramp that program back up, said the country's atomic energy chief.

In the first comments on Trump's inauguration from a high-ranking member of Iran's government, Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also a vice president, said he viewed the absence of a mention of Iran in Trump's inaugural speech as "positive".

But in an interview with CBC News in Iran, he also dismissed the new US administration's intention to develop a "state-of-the-art" missile defense system to stave off any attacks from North Korea and Iran.

That intention was announced Thursday on the White House website, within minutes of Trump's inauguration.

"The United States—it's more than 10,000 miles [16,000 kilometers] away from Iran—and we have never intended to manufacture missiles that would go that far," he said.

  Against All Rationality

It is a "politicized" decision that is "against all rationality", he added.

But the nuclear deal is Iran's central concern. It has watched warily as Trump repeatedly cast doubt on the deal, under which tough sanctions were lifted a year ago this month.

The unprecedented agreement in 2015 brought together Iran with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in a rare show of international consensus.

In the dying days of his presidency, Barack Obama insisted the deal brought "significant, concrete results in making the United States and the world a safer place".

Echoing US-based Israeli lobbyists who claim Iran cannot be trusted, Trump has called the deal the worst ever made and, during his campaign, promised to tear it up.

Last week, he was more vague about his plans, but insisted the deal was still "one of the dumbest" he had ever seen.

Salehi is a key architect of the deal that Trump wants to tear up, and if that happens, Iran will "act appropriately", he said.

"We did once before … that deal didn't work and Iran was able to go back to its nuclear activities with high speed."

  We Are Prepared

The official stressed that Iran can very easily snap back not only to where it was before the nuclear deal, but a much higher position, technologically speaking.

"I don't want to see that day. I don't want to make a decision in that course, but we are prepared," he said.

Salehi said he watched the inauguration with the expectation that Trump would mention Iran or its nuclear deal. But he did not raise either.

The nuclear deal is also the subject of heated discussion in Iran, especially as the country heads toward its own presidential election this spring.

Critics at home have called out the government for lower-than-expected economic dividends for ordinary Iranians.

They have also pointed to Trump's comments as proof of the dangers of dealing with the US and of their belief that Washington cannot be trusted no matter who leads it.

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