Washington will never let Iran get a nuclear weapon, said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, as Tehran has reportedly breached the level of uranium enrichment set by the international agreement.
Speaking to hundreds of supporters at a Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conference, Pence said that the U.S. "will continue to oppose Iran's malign influence" and that "America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon."
Earlier on Monday, Tehran started enriching uranium at 4.5% which is higher than the 3.67% limit imposed by the nuclear accord, an Iranian official told the Associated Press.
A spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said the 20% enrichment is the third phase in scaling down its commitments under the 2015 deal.
However, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, reportedly said that the world knows Iran is not pursing a nuclear weapon.
He said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency, that nuclear weapons have no place in Islam and that the religions would never approve of weapons of mass destruction.
Under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was signed by the U.K., the U.S., Russia, China, France, Germany and the European Union, Iran agreed to destroy its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%.
Pence also issued a warning to Iran, saying that it should not misinterpret the decision to call back a strike after Tehran took down an American drone last month.
“Let me be clear,” he said. “Iran should not confuse American restraint with a lack of American resolve.”
Tensions have been rising between the two countries since Trump left the nuclear deal in 2018, and the U.S. has since embarked on a diplomatic and economic campaign to put pressure on Iran in order to renegotiate the agreement.
As part of its campaign, the U.S. has re-imposed sanctions on exports of Iranian crude oil, which has sent Iran’s economy into a nosedive.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke at the CUFI conference, attacking Iran and criticizing the country's religious freedoms.
"Persecution of the faithful is especially intense inside the Islamic Republic of Iran," he said.
"The Ayatollahs have grievously deprived the Iranian people of that most basic, simple, fundamental human right. The right to worship," he added.
By Umar Farooq in Washington, D.C.