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Top Iranian Official Says Country Will ‘Snap Back’ Nuclear Program If U.S. Dismantles Deal

A top Iranian nuclear official said that Iran would quickly bring its nuclear program up to speed if US President Donald Trump dismantles the nuclear deal as Trump said he may do during his presidential campaign.

Iranian Vice President and atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi on Saturday told CBC News in Iran that Tehran was adopting a “wait and see” approach to the new Trump administration and considers it “positive” that Trump did not mention Iran in his inaugural address. Nonetheless, Salehi said, Iran is ready to quickly ramp up its nuclear program if the US reneges on its commitments.

Salehi told CBC he was not alarmed by the new administration’s announcement that it would develop a “state of the art” missile defense system, intended to defend it against missiles from North Korea or Iran.

“The United States — it’s more than 10,000 miles away from Iran, and we have never intended to manufacture missiles that would go that far,” Salehi told the Canadian channel.

The US announced the development of the system on Friday evening in one of its first statements after the inauguration. Salehi called the announcement “politicized” and “against all rationality.”

Trump has tempered his criticism of the Iran nuclear deal in the days since November 8, but during the campaign he lambasted it as the worst deal possible and said he would tear it up if he won the election. As late as last week, the president called the deal “one of the dumbest” he had ever seen.

Salehi was a key architect of the deal and told CBC that Iran would “act appropriately” if the US backed out of it.

“We did once before … that deal didn’t work and Iran was able to go back to its nuclear activities with high speed,” he said. “We can very easily snap back and go back … not only to where we were, 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.”

The nuclear deal has opponents in both the US and Iran.

As Iran heads for presidential elections this year, critics of the deal at home criticized the government over the fact that ordinary Iranians see lower economic dividends than what supporters of the deal predicted, CBC reported.

Hawks in the Iranian government have also pointed to Trump’s comments as proof that dealing with the US is dangerous and Washington cannot be trusted regardless of who serves as president.

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