Iran threatens uranium enrichment if world powers do not keep promises

09 May, 2019, 03:31 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • US to counter Iran with military force deployment: Pentagon - Xinhua | English.news.cn

The 2015 nuclear pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), provided Iran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program. All were signatories to the nuclear deal and continue to support it.

Rouhani on Wednesday appeared on TV to declare Iranian reciprocal action to USA over the breach of JCPOA by scale-down of Iran's commitments envisaged by Note 26 of the nuclear deal.

Speaking on the one year anniversary of the USA withdrawal from the agreement, president Hassan Rouhani announced that the country would begin stockpiling enriched uranium rather than selling it overseas, since such sales are prohibited under US sanctions.

"If the five countries came to the negotiating table and we reached an agreement, and if they could protect our interests in oil and banking sectors, we will go back to square one [and will resume our commitments]", Rouhani said. "We will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons", Netanyahu said.

China expressed its support for the nuclear agreement, with a foreign ministry spokesman calling on all parties to uphold the deal and saying China opposes USA imposition of unilateral sanctions.

Iran has denied ever pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.

"Iran has taken minimum retaliatory measures against US maximum pressure", said Ali Vaez, the Iran director at the International Crisis Group, a think tank.

Is the Iran nuclear deal dead?

China also blamed the U.S. and said that Washington has "further aggravated" tensions over the Iran nuclear issue. It did not elaborate on what steps Iran planned to take.

"We are extremely concerned about this announcement and urge Iran to continue to meet its commitments under the deal and not to take escalatory steps", the spokesman for Mrs. Such sales, used to keep Iran's own stockpiles below caps under the deal, were already effectively blocked by a US sanctions move last week.

It came on the first anniversary of Washington's withdrawal from landmark 2015 deal.

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Meanwhile, Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif - who once claimed to be close to reformists - have shed their reputation as moderates in the Iranian political landscape.

"Other JCPOA participants chose not to fulfill any of their obligations", Zarif added.

The deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region of responsibility represented "a prudent repositioning of assets in response to indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces", Shanahan tweeted Monday.

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

Iran set a 60-day deadline for its nuclear deal counterparts to abide by their commitments on oil and banking, saying it will stop observing restrictions on uranium enrichment if they don't.

Rouhani's announcement came just days after US national security adviser John Bolton used the routine deployment of an American aircraft carrier and bomber task force to threaten Iran with "unrelenting force"-a move critics denounced as a risky step in the direction of all-out war".

China's foreign ministry said on Wednesday the 2015 nuclear agreement should be fully implemented and all sides have a responsibility to ensure it happens. "That is what our heroes did at the dawn of the nations' rebirth, and we march in their path".

Tensions have risen on the eve of the anniversary of President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the agreement, under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of worldwide sanctions.

Iran has chose to suspend some of its commitments under a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with major powers abandoned by Washington previous year, the foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.

Such steps, which could bring Iran's breakout time to below a year, would nearly certainly trigger the reimposition of United Nations and European Union sanctions, and an accelerated round of escalation.

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