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Rouhani Touts Arms Sales As Benefit If Iran Sticks To 2015 Nuclear Deal

Iranian President Hassan Rohani speaks at a public gathering in the city of Rafsanjan in Iran's southwest Kerman Province on November 11.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani speaks at a public gathering in the city of Rafsanjan in Iran's southwest Kerman Province on November 11.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani, in a thinly veiled appeal to hard-liners, says staying in a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers will allow Tehran to restart weapons sales and purchases abroad.

In an address on November 11 in southwestern Iran, Rohani noted that "by continuing the nuclear deal, we will reach a huge political, defensive and security goal."

"If we save the nuclear deal, Iran's arms embargo will be lifted and we can buy weapons or sell our weapons to the world," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump last year abandoned the nuclear deal that gave Iran access to world trade, including the sale of oil, in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Washington has since reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran's economy, while Tehran has already stopped abiding by several commitments and has threatened to further breach them if the Western European signatories to the deal -- France, Germany, and Britain -- do not offer economic relief. Russia and China are the two other signatories to the agreement.

Rohani has been pushing the other signatories to fully implement terms of the landmark 2015 deal, while hard-liners at home, angry over the U.S. sanctions and their perception that Europe has failed to do meaningful business with Iran, have increasingly sought to move away from it.

One of the terms of the deal is that a United Nations-imposed arms embargo on Iran will be lifted in October 2020, which Rohani said was one of the deal's "significant impacts."

Under its agreement with world powers, Iran is also allowed to operate limited quantities of first-generation centrifuges.

The country is also allowed to continue research and development in a manner that does not accumulate enriched uranium, including work with certain types of advanced centrifuges.

Enriched uranium can be used to make fuel for reactors but also nuclear weapons, and more advanced centrifuges could enable Iran to produce material for a potential nuclear bomb faster.

Tehran recently resumed low-grade uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear plant and has since said it could refine up to 60 percent of fissile purity, well on its way to the 90 percent needed for nuclear bomb fuel.

"We see with growing concern that uranium enrichment continues and Iran has not only announced it but it goes on with it," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters on November 11, adding that he would meet with his British and French counterparts to discuss how to react to the situation.

Trump wants to force Iran to renegotiate the 2015 accord, arguing that the terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and agree curbs to its ballistic-missile program.

Iran has refused, insisting that its nuclear program was strictly for civilian energy purposes.

With reporting by Reuters