Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Tuesday that it will restart its nuclear program if the Trump administration continues to pursue confrontational policies and rhetoric toward Iran.
The announcement came in response to increasingly bellicose words for Iran from the Trump administration, and the announcement last month of new economic sanctions against Iran, one of the world's largest producers of petroleum.
Trump has also promised to back out of the 2015 deal with Iran, signed by Barack Obama and the leaders of Russia, Britain, France, China, and Germany.
Under the agreement, often called "the Iran nuclear deal," Iran suspended its nuclear program, and the U.S. and other countries reduced the severity of their military blockade of imports and exports to the Middle Eastern country.
Rouhani said Tuesday:
"If they want to return to the previous position, definitely, not within a week or a month, but within hours or days, we will be back to a much more advanced stage than we were during our last negotiations."
It's important to note that Rouhani risked his presidency to make the deal with the U.S., and a major reason he won re-election this year is the agreement enjoys widespread support in Iran, "even among anti-Western hard-liners who believe it averted a military confrontation with the U.S."
This is the first time Rouhani has threatened to back out of the deal himself, a strong indication of how badly the Trump Administration has unwound U.S.-Iranian relations.
The sanctions against Iran are an aggressive military action. Economic sanctions are enforced by military blockade, and have historically been a precursor to war with the country under sanction.
So it's not a geopolitical move to be taken lightly or thought of as anything less than an escalation toward war.
Sanctions also invariably hurt the livelihood of innocent civilians who are trying to make a living like the rest of us, battering the economy of the sanctioned country, which is another reason why the deal that lifted some of the sanctions against Iran is so popular there.
Claims by Trump administration officials and media foreign policy analysts that Iran is continuing to carry out a nuclear bomb program in secret are completely contradicted by the entire U.S. intelligence community.
Even the Council on Foreign Relations acknowledges this fact about Iran, that it is not violating the nuclear agreement, and hasn't pursued nuclear weapon capabilities in over a decade.
In 2007, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies publicized a "high confidence" report that Iran had no nuclear weapons program. They confirmed this assessment again in 2011.
To save America another war in the Middle East against a country with no WMD, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should conspicuously call in the heads of the CIA and DIA, and the Director of National Intelligence, to testify in open session about Iran's current nuclear status, as Pat Buchanan has wisely recommended.
As a candidate for the White House, Trump's campaign rhetoric emphasized how bad a deal it is for Americans to pay for the rest of the world's defenses.
Iran poses no clear, imminent, or even long-term threat to the United States, and there is no conceivable way that war with the U.S. would be in the interests of any of the parties involved in this.
If Trump continues to escalate U.S. foreign policy toward war with Iran, then Iran will be his legacy, just like Iraq is George W. Bush's legacy, a legacy that Republicans have been at great pains in 2016 and 2012 to forget ever happened.