US & Canada

Rouhani: US threatens Russia with new atomic weapon

The review of US nuclear policy published on Friday has riled Russia, which viewed the document as confrontational.

Activist with a mask of Donald Trump in a demonstration against nuclear weapons, November 18, 2017, Berlin [Photo/Adam Berry/Getty Images]

Iran has accused the United States of threatening Russia with a new atomic weapon, after Washington published a document outlining plans to expand its nuclear capabilities to deter others.

The review of US nuclear policy published on Friday has riled Russia, which viewed the document as confrontational, and raised fears that it could increase the risk of miscalculation between the two world powers.

"The Americans are shamelessly threatening Russia with a new atomic weapon," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who opened the way to Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, including longtime adversary Washington, said in a speech on Sunday.

"The same people who supposedly believe that using weapons of mass destruction is a crime against humanity ... are talking about new weapons to threaten or use against rivals," he said in his televised address.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier warned in a tweet that the US policy document posed the risk of "bringing humankind closer to annihilation".

The US military has put countering China and Russia, dubbed "revisionist powers", at the centre of a new national defence strategy unveiled earlier this month, shifting priorities away from action against Muslim fighters.

By expanding its own, low-yield nuclear capability, the US would deter Russia from using nuclear weapons, according to American officials.

Washington has also maintained that it "cannot accept" a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Zarif also said in his tweet: "Trump's obduracy in killing the #JCPOA [Iran's nuclear deal with world powers] stems from the same dangerous imprudence."

Trump gave the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated before he took office, a final reprieve last month, but warned European allies and Congress they had to work with him to fix "the disastrous flaws" in the pact or face a US exit.

He said he would waive sanctions against Iran, that were lifted as part of the international deal, for the last time unless his conditions were met.

The ultimatum put pressure on European Union powers - key backers and parties to the 2015 international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear programme - to satisfy Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement.

Source: Reuters news agency