Ali Akbar Salehi
Ali Akbar Salehi Reuters

The head of Iran's nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, claimed on Monday that the US killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimnai has weakened the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization in the region.

Speaking at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Salehi said, according to The Associated Press, that last month's drone strike that killed Soleimani showed “the US administration has not yet come to its senses in recognizing the realities on the ground.”

Iran retaliated for the killing of Soleimani by launching a barrage of missiles on two Iraqi military bases hosting American troops. There were no fatalities, though the Pentagon said on Monday that 109 US soldiers suffered brain injuries.

Salehi reiterated on Monday that Iran was prepared to do more.

“Be it known as my country strongly retaliated once, it will never hesitate to strike back when necessary,” he said, according to AP.

The US last month added new sanctions on Salehi's Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and on Salehi himself, freezing any assets the director had within US jurisdiction.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, in response to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

In one of the moves, the Islamic Republic restarted uranium enrichment at the underground Fordow facility in violation of the deal.

Iran announced last month that it will abandon the deal altogether following the US killing of Soleimani.

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