Iran will work with European countries to stay in the 2015 nuclear deal but is ready to “start enriching uranium more than before,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday.
“Iran is a country that adheres to its commitments and the U.S. is a country that has never adhered to its commitments,” he said, responding to President Donald Trump’s announcement that Washington would pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Rouhani said he has directed Iranian diplomats to negotiate with the European signatories to the deal — plus Russia and China — about preserving the framework of the agreement. He went on to say that Tehran would “wait a few weeks” to see how negotiations pan out before making a decision about staying in the deal.
He also issued a direct warning: Iran is ready to start unlimited uranium enrichment if the negotiations do not yield any benefits.
“I have ordered the [Atomic Energy Agency of Iran] to be prepared for taking subsequent measures in order to restart our industrial uranium enrichment unlimitedly, if necessary,” Rouhani said, according to PressTV, an Iranian state news outlet.
Rouhani’s comments came minutes after Trump announced Washington will re-impose the “highest level” of economic sanctions on the Iranian regime, saying the nuclear deal that lifted them was a “horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.”
Trump’s order effectively cancels U.S. participation in the nuclear deal — negotiated by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers — and reinstates economic penalties against Tehran that were in place before the deal. Trump has long criticized the nuclear agreement as one of the worst ever made, and has pushed for European allies to negotiate a broader framework that addresses Iran’s missile testing and support for proxy forces in the Middle East.
Such a deal does not appear likely to come about, as all other signatories have said they will continue to extend sanctions relief to Iran as long as it meets its obligations under the agreement. Britain, France and Germany called on the Trump administration on Tuesday afternoon to avoid taking action that would prevent them from holding up their end of the deal.
“We urge the US to ensure that the structures of the [deal] can remain intact, and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal,” the countries said in joint statement. “After engaging with the US Administration in a thorough manner over the past months, we call on the US to do everything possible to preserve the gains for nuclear non-proliferation brought about by the [deal] by allowing for a continued enforcement of its main elements.”
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