June 19 (UPI) -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday plans to violate the 2015 nuclear deal by adding to Tehran's uranium stockpile is the least possible step it can take.
Iran said this week it plans to begin enriching more uranium for the stockpile on June 27. Rouhani told his cabinet Wednesday that plan is Iran's "minimum measure" to answer the United States' withdrawal from the pact and new sanctions from Washington aimed at hindering Tehran's economy.
The nuclear deal was brokered in 2015 between Iran and a coalition led by the United States under former President Barack Obama. Last year, President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the accord and has since taken increasingly aggressive actions to punish Iran.
Rouhani criticized European leaders Wednesday, saying they haven't fully committed to a deal without the United States and have refused to engage in normal trade, for fear of the U.S. sanctions.
"The other party [to the deal], however, has not only refused to keep its commitments... but also brought [its] main spirit into question," he said, noting that spirit is "restoration of decent economic relationship between Iran and the world."
Rouhani also said the U.S. sanctions are hurting third-world nations that used to trade with Iran.
"This is not sanctioning. This is a crime against humanity and economic terrorism."
Tensions between Iran and the United States have risen in recent weeks. U.S. officials have said Iran is behind several attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman since last month. Rouhani deflected the blame Wednesday.
"Our close ties to Asia, Japan and China prompted some to attack two oil tankers on the very day that the Japanese premier (Shinzo Abe) was our guest," Rouhani said.
Maj. Gen Hossein Salami, who leads Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Tehran's ballistic missile technology changes the "balance of power" in the region. He reiterated claims that Iran has a missile capable of destroying a U.S. aircraft carrier to "end the story of American aircraft carriers in the area."
"If we got this technology, we could target the enemies," he said. "We tested it at sea to hit the target precisely."
Salami said diplomacy is not known without power, and "we are safe when we are powerful."