Rouhani said Iran is capable of restarting its nuclear program and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than in 2013, when Iran began marathon nuclear talks.
“If America wants to go back to the experience [of imposing sanctions], Iran would certainly return in a short time – not a week or a month, but within hours – to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations,” Rouhani told a session of Parliament, IRNA reported.
The landmark agreement between Iran and six world powers two years ago capped Iran’s uranium enrichment levels in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
No good partner
Rouhani also struck out at US President Donald Trump, saying that he had shown the world that he was an unreliable partner, not just for Iran but for US allies.
“In recent months, the world has clearly seen that under Trump, America has ignored international agreements and, in addition to undermining the nuclear deal, has broken its word on the Paris climate agreement and the Cuba accord… the United States is not a good partner or a reliable negotiator,” said Rouhani.
“Those who are trying to go back to the language of threats and sanctions are prisoners of their past hallucinations. They deprive themselves of the advantages of peace.”
Trump said last week he did not believe that Iran was living up to the spirit of the nuclear deal despite regular verifications by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on several occasions that Iran remained committed to the terms of the deal.
Iran says the new sanctions that the US has imposed on it breach the agreement it reached in 2015 with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
In late July, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on six Iranian firms for their role in the development of a ballistic missile program after Tehran launched a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit.
In early August, Trump signed into law new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea, passed by the US Congress. The sanctions in that bill also target Iran’s missile program as well as alleged human rights violations.
The United States imposed unilateral sanctions after saying Iran’s ballistic missile tests violated a UN resolution, which endorsed the nuclear deal and called upon Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran denies its missile development breaches the resolution, saying its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.
Iran to remain loyal to nuclear deal
But Rouhani also tempered his own threat, adding that Iran seeks to remain loyal to its commitments under the nuclear deal, which opened a "path of cooperation and confidence-building" with the world.
"The deal was a model of the victory of peace and diplomacy over war and unilateralism," said Rouhani. "It was Iran's preference, but it was not and will not remain Iran's only option."
‘Wanted to nominate women’
Rouhani was addressing lawmakers as deliberations start over his new ministerial lineup, which must be approved by MPs in the coming days.
On August 8, he presented a list of his proposed picks to head 17 out of 18 ministries to the legislative body for a vote of confidence.
The president started his second term two weeks ago under criticism over his all-male cabinet.
“I wanted to nominate three women ministers but it did not happen,” he said, without explaining why.
“All ministers must use women in high-ranking positions... and especially female advisers and deputies,” he added.
Rouhani, a 69-year-old moderate cleric, won a resounding re-election victory in May in large part on a platform of reform and greater civil liberties and equality.
He defended his cabinet selections on Tuesday, pointing to his pick for the Communications and Information Technology Ministry, 36-year-old Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, as "our first experience in choosing from the youth, someone who has grown up after the revolution".
Rouhani promised a more targeted approach to social welfare and job creation.
He promised to eradicate absolute poverty and improve the conditions of the poorest "by five times" by the end of his term in 2021.
"The government is determined to carry out structural reforms. It sees the all-out fight against corruption as an absolute prerequisite for progress and social justice," he said.
He also detailed a range of economic challenges, particularly the need to clean up the banking system, which is riven with toxic debt, and reform taxation to end the country's reliance on unstable oil revenues.
He courted controversy in his first term by demanding that powerful economic groups must be brought into the tax system.
"Reducing tax exemptions along with expanded tax coverage can elevate justice," he said.
He promised a new rating system for banks and an increase in their capital requirements "to reach global standards".