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Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president threatened to revitalize the country's nuclear program if the US continues with sanctions

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Iranian president Hassan Rouhani threatened to revitalize the country's nuclear program if the United States continues with "threats and sanctions" against his country.

Rouhani said the program could be restarted "in an hour and a day" and would be more advanced than it was in 2015 when Iran signed a nuclear deal with other world powers. That agreement capped Iran's uranium enrichment levels in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations responded to Rouhani's threat saying, "Iran can't be allowed to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage."

"Iran, under no circumstances, can ever be allowed to have nuclear weapons," she said in a statement. "At the same time, however, we must also continue to hold Iran responsible for its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights and violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions."

Currently, Rouhani's threat remains just that. The leader offered no evidence of Iran's capability to rapidly restart higher enrichment, even though the country still has its stock of centrifuges.

Many suspect Rouhani's threat was meant to appease Iranians who want the leader to take a tougher stand against the U.S. Still, this is likely to further strain U.S.-Iranian relations going forward.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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