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As Iran threatens more uranium enrichment, we discuss next steps for the US

Part of the Pardis petrochemical complex facilities in Assaluyeh, on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, Iran.
Part of the Pardis petrochemical complex facilities in Assaluyeh, on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, Iran.
/Iranian Presidency Office via AP

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Iran threatened Wednesday to enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its 2015 nuclear deal, raising regional tensions as a U.S. aircraft carrier and bombers headed to the Middle East to confront Tehran.

A televised address by President Hassan Rouhani, who once pledged that the landmark deal would draw Iran closer to the West, saw the cleric instead pressure Europe to shield Tehran from the sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement exactly a year earlier.  

Rouhani's threats put the world on notice that it cannot continue to rely on Iran complying with terms of the unraveling deal in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, a U.S. campaign of sanctions hammering Iran's anemic economy and blocking its sale of oil on the global market is only making life worse, putting further pressure on both its Shiite theocracy and its 80 million people.  

Later Wednesday, Trump issued an executive order announcing new sanctions targeting Iran's steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors, which provide foreign currency earnings for Tehran.

We check in on the latest from Iran and discuss the best course of policy action for the U.S.

With files from the Associated Press.



Mehrnoosh Pourziaiee, correspondent with BBC Persian; she tweets @BBCMehrnoush

Aaron David Miller,distinguished fellow at the Wilson Center, a Washington-based non-partisan policy forum that tackles global issues and a negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations; he tweets @aarondmiller2

Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank focusing on national security and foreign policy based in Washington, D.C.; he has advised the W. Bush, Obama and Trump administrations on Iran and sanctions issues; he tweets @mdubowitz