The ink on last month's Iranian nuclear deal is barely dry, yet Iran's foreign minister is warning that the Islamic republic can resume 20 percent uranium enrichment in its nuclear program within a day.
"The structure of our nuclear program has been maintained and the 20 percent enrichment can be resumed in less than 24 hours," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told a gathering of students in Tehran, according to the Times of Israel.
Iran promised under the terms of the Nov. 23 agreement to limit its uranium enrichment to 5 percent and slow down the development of the Iranian nuclear program for six months, as negotiations continue on a final agreement.
Iran reportedly has already gained access to $8 billion in frozen assets. On Thursday, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate calling for more sanctions if Iran fails to comply with the interim agreement's terms. But Congress begins its Christmas recess tomorrow, so action on that bill is weeks away.
President Obama threatened to veto the bill as a new round of negotiations started in Geneva. The White House and Secretary of State John Kerry argue that new sanctions could scuttle chances for a final agreement.
But Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel advocated for increased sanctions on Iran until the country formally gives up its nuclear weapons program.
"I appeal to President Obama and Congress to demand, as a condition of continued talks, the total dismantling of Iran's nuclear infrastructure and the regime's public and complete repudiation of all genocidal intent against Israel," Wiesel wrote in full-page ads placed this week in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. "And I appeal to the leaders of the United States Senate to go forward with their vote to strengthen sanctions against Iran until these conditions have been met."
Western diplomats are not backing down on the pressure. One unnamed diplomat told Reuters it is in Iran's best interest to conclude a final agreement because sanctions will not be eased until a deal is reached.
This may be creating discomfort for the Iranians, evidenced by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's comments to Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency, saying an "antagonistic" atmosphere from the west was pulling the deal apart.
Iran added to tensions Thursday with a new round of military exercises in the Persian Gulf. "Really, these war games show not much has changed inside the Islamic Republic. It's business as usual," former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon.