Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the country is capable of enriching uranium at weapons-grade levels of 90 percent, the Associated Press reported. Rouhani, whose government has lost public favor since U.S. sanctions caused a decline in the Iranian economy, indicated that Iran could toughen relations with the West as President-elect Ebrahim Raisi prepares to replace him in August.
“Even if one day there is a need for 90 percent enrichment for a reactor, we do not have any problem and we are able,” Rouhani said, according to the IRNA, a state-run news agency. “We can do anything in the peaceful path.”
Rouhani made the claim while speaking to the nation’s Cabinet Wednesday. He also castigated the nation’s theocracy for not permitting the government to reinstate a 2015 nuclear deal, which provided a reprieve from the U.S. sanctions, the Associated Press reported.
“They took away the opportunity to reach an agreement from this government. We deeply regret missing this opportunity,” Rouhani said, the IRNA reported.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
The 2015 nuclear deal limited Tehran’s program to enriching only up to 3.67 percent — enough to power a civilian nuclear reactor. It now enriches a small amount of uranium up to 60 percent, a short step from weapons-grade levels.
Rouhani also complained that hard-liners outside of his relatively moderate government blocked its efforts to reach a deal in Vienna. For months, negotiators have been trying to find a way for Iran to return to the limits of the deal and for the U.S. to rejoin the accord from which then-President Donald Trump earlier unilaterally withdrew.
A new round of Vienna negotiations has yet to be scheduled.
Rouhani said he hoped Raisi’s administration “will be able to finish the job.”
“There is no difference if the current or next administration will be successful, but we are very sorry that nearly six month of opportunity has been lost,” he said.