Photo Credit: Iranian President’s Office press image
President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant outside Bushehr, Iran, Jan. 13, 2015.

Iran has “chopped off the hands” of those responsible for the April 11 blast at its Natanz nuclear facility by activating advanced centrifuges and starting to enrich uranium to 60 percent, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week.

In public addresses aired by Iran’s IRINN TV on April 14 and 15, Rouhani called the Natanz incident “nuclear terrorism,” and also reiterated Tehran’s demand that the United States return to full compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action before Iran does so. Former U.S. President Donald Trump exited the 2015 nuclear agreement in 2018 and imposed heavy sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.

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“We have said very clearly: Once the U.S. implements [the JCPOA], and we see that everything is done in a proper and practical way, we too will immediately act to return to all our commitments,” said Rouhani.

“The fact that … we will activate the IR-6 centrifuges in Natanz, or that we will bring our uranium enrichment to 60 percent—this is done in response to your malice,” he added.

“We will chop off your hands when you commit a crime. We already cut off both your hands: We cut off one hand by activating the IR-6 centrifuges, and we cut off the other by [increasing uranium enrichment] to 60 percent,” he said.

The Iranian president went on to state that Iran is capable of enriching uranium to 90 percent—military grade—”today” if it wishes to.

“The idea in your head that we are paving the way to an atomic bomb is a complete mistake,” he said.

“Even today we can enrich to 90 percent. Literally, today. If we decide, we will enrich to 90 percent today. However, we are committed to what we declared right from the start: Our nuclear activity is entirely peaceful. We are not interested in a nuclear bomb,” he added.

It was the United States, he said, that was interested in nuclear weapons.

“You have been amassing and storing them, and every year you produce new bombs. This accusation is tattooed to your foreheads. You don’t need to talk about the Iranian people and government,” said Rouhani.

Nevertheless, he added, whenever the United States chooses to return to its JCPOA commitments, Iran would also do so, “without delay.” Iran would reduce enrichment to the 3.67 percent stipulated by the agreement, he promised.

“Just return to your commitments and don’t worry about all those things.”

This article was first published by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

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