Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held a fiery cabinet meeting Wednesday during which he railed against suspected Israeli sabotage of the Natanz nuclear facility and vowed to increase uranium enrichment even further.
“The announcement that we will activate IR-6 centrifuges at Natanz or increase enrichment to 60% is the answer to your malice,” Rouhani said to the alleged saboteurs, as reported by Iran’s state-run PressTV.
“You cannot commit a crime. We will cut off your hand. We will cut off both of your hands, with IR-6 centrifuges and 60% enrichment. Obviously, we will not sit idly by,” Rouhani fulminated, invoking Islamic scripture that specifies cutting off the hands of a thief as appropriate punishment.
“If the Zionists take action against our nation, we will respond. They have now received the first response. If you make trouble for an IR-1 centrifuge, we will not replace it with another IR-1 but with an IR-6 to let you know that you cannot stop this technology with malice,” Rouhani declared.
IR-6 uranium centrifuges are the advanced models Iran is illegally operating at the Natanz facility, and can somehow afford despite the theocracy’s constant complaints that American sanctions have made it so poor that it cannot afford coronavirus medication.
Rouhani said the incident at Natanz “constitutes nuclear terrorism,” while insisting Iran’s uranium enrichment – which openly violates the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal and stretches far beyond any plausible civilian need – is “peaceful and legal.”
“We know what you are doing. You want our hands to be empty in the negotiations, but we will join the talks with fuller hands. We will not let our hands be empty,” he said, tacitly admitting that Iran’s actions violate the JCPOA and positioning his illegal uranium centrifuges as a bargaining chip for negotiations with the United States.
Rouhani demanded unconditional U.S. concessions before those negotiations can begin:
The United States must return to the same conditions in 2015, when we signed the JCPOA. We have to go back to July 2015. The same agreement and the same things said should be implemented. Our word is clear. As soon as the United States acts and we see that it is correct and operational, we will immediately fulfill all our obligations.
“The Iranian chief executive also said the security and intelligence officials would present their final reports on the Natanz incident, which appears to be an Israeli crime,” PressTV added.
Israel has not officially claimed responsibility for the event at Natanz, which has been described by Iranian sources as everything from a cyberattack to sabotage with remote-controlled explosives.
“My policy as prime minister of Israel is clear: I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel. And Israel will continue to defend itself against Iran’s aggression and terrorism,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday after meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The White House said the U.S. was not involved with any operation at Natanz, while Austin said efforts to re-engage with Iran on the JCPOA “will continue.”
Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, former head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said in an interview with Iranian media on Monday that the attack targeted an underground electrical substation and severely damaged the Natanz power grid, using either cyber-weapons or physical sabotage.
“The design of the enemy was very beautiful,” Davani said.
A spokesman for the Iranian government contradicted Rouhani’s rant on Tuesday by stating that an Iranian “traitor” was responsible for sabotaging Natanz and the incident was “not an external attack.” The traitor has supposedly been identified and “the necessary measures are being taken.”