The European Union on Thursday urged Iran to continue implementing its obligations under the nuclear deal and warned against any warnings after Tehran announced it would reduce its obligations to the nuclear deal and give it 60 days to negotiate with it to safeguard its economic interests.
“We remain fully committed to maintaining and implementing the Agreement in full … We strongly urge Iran to continue to implement fully its obligations under the Agreement as it has done so far and to refrain from any”, the EU said in a joint statement to EU foreign affairs and foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and France. Escalating steps”.
“We’ve received with deep concern the statements made by Iran on its obligations under the nuclear agreement”, the statement said.
“We reject any delay and will assess Iran’s commitment on the basis of its performance with regard to its nuclear obligations under the agreement as well as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”, the statement said.
“In this regard, we recall the main role of the International Atomic Energy Agency in monitoring Iran’s commitment to and verification of nuclear commitments”.
The statement stressed the determination to continue efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran, including by activating the special European financial mechanism.
The statement urged “non-participating states to refrain from taking any measures that would hamper the ability of the remaining parties to fully implement their obligations”, referring to the United States, which withdrew from the agreement a year ago and continues to impose further sanctions on Iran.
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday stressed pressure on Iran to impose sanctions on its mining industry after Tehran said it would suspend some of its commitments under a nuclear deal rejected by Washington.
A year after Trump pulled out of the deal, which he described as “horrendous”, tension worsened as the United States sent an aircraft carrier, escort and bombers capable of carrying nuclear warheads into the region, accusing Iran of preparing “impending attacks”.
In a declaration that was expected days ago, Iran said it would immediately suspend the application of some restrictions under the 2015 agreement, a move by which Tehran sought to pressure Washington’s allies to move to maintain the deal.
Tehran has said it will drop further pledges if other signatories – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – fail to meet their obligations to ease sanctions within 60 days.
President Hassan Rouhani said the purpose of the deadline was to salvage the Trump nuclear deal after its sanctions had had dire consequences for Iran – which had expected an economic boom from the deal negotiated during former President Barack Obama.
“It needed surgery”, Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting in remarks broadcast live on state television.
“In the past year, analgesic tablets have not been enough, in fact surgery to save the nuclear deal, not to undermine it”, he said.
Rouhani condemned European countries for considering the United States a “policeman” of the world and said their positions did not allow them to take “firm decisions for their national interests”.
Trump was quick to respond to the pressure on the struggling economy in Iran, imposing sanctions on anyone buying or trading in iron, steel, aluminum and copper.
The White House has moved to prevent all countries from buying Iranian oil – the important source of currency – and said the mining and steel sector is Iran’s second largest exporter of foreign currency, accounting for 10 percent of exports.
“Tehran can expect more action unless its behavior is radically changed”, Trump said in a statement.
But in a change of tone, Trump, who attacked North Korea hard before holding two summits with its leader Kim Jong-un, said he was ready to negotiate directly.
“I am looking forward one day to meeting Iran’s leaders to reach an agreement, to take steps that give Iran the future it deserves”, Trump said.
Trump said at a rally in Florida on Wednesday evening that a “fair deal” could be reached at some point.
“We don’t want to harm anyone … We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons”, he told his supporters That’s all we want.
Observers believe it is unlikely that Iran’s leaders – who have made US hostility to the foundations of the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the pro-Western shah – want to meet Trump, whose country has often threatened.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has repeatedly met his counterpart in the Obama administration, then Secretary of State John Kerry, and recently hinted at the possibility of prisoner exchanges with the United States.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has said it no longer considers itself bound by the agreed restrictions on stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water.
He said that after 60 days, he would also stop his commitment to restrictions on the degree of uranium enrichment and modifications to the Arak heavy water reactor, which was developed to prevent the production of plutonium.
Enriched uranium for much higher levels than Iran’s current stockpiles could enter into a fissile nucleus for a nuclear weapon, while heavy water is a source of plutonium that can be used as an alternative method of producing a warhead.
Robert Kelly, a former UN nuclear inspector who currently works for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said that at the practical level, the pledges Iran gives don’t affect its ability to develop an atomic bomb.
He added that Iran was only seeking to “save face” after “an agreement not respected by the other side”.
The other three parties to the deal sought to save him by setting up a swap mechanism to circumvent US sanctions that were re-imposed, but Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized their attempt as “a bitter joke”.
European powers expressed concern about Iran’s announcement and expressed hope that the nuclear deal would be maintained.
“It is important to avoid any step that would prevent implementation of the commitments of the current parties to the agreement or that would escalate”, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry said.
“We as Europeans, as Germans, will do our part and expect a full implementation of Iran as well”, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert.