DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Monday it would further reduce its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal if European parties failed to shield Tehran’s economy from sanctions reimposed by the United States after Washington quit the accord last year.
“It is meaningless to continue unilateral commitments to the deal if we don’t enjoy its benefits as promised by the deal’s European parties,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart in Moscow.
Iran has said it will breach the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities one by one, ratcheting up pressure on the countries who still hope to save it.
Tehran has threatened to take further steps by Sept. 6, such as enriching uranium to 20% or restarting mothballed centrifuges, machines that purify uranium for use as fuel in power plants or, if very highly enriched, in weapons.
Tehran is prepared to take a “stronger step” in reducing its commitments under the deal with world powers if European countries don’t take action to save the pact, its foreign ministry’s spokesman said on Monday.
“The third step has been designed and will be stronger than the first and second steps to create balance between Iran’s rights and commitments to the JCPOA,” state news agency IRNA quoted the foreign ministry’s spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying on Monday.
However, Iran had earlier stressed that these steps are “reversible” if the European signatories of the pact fulfilled their obligations.
President Donald Trump last year exited the accord between Iran and six world powers aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, which the West suspected sought to make a nuclear weapon, in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on Tehran. Washington has also reimposed sanctions on exports of Iranian oil.
Iran denies ever having sought a nuclear weapon.
Also, Iran’s government spokesman said on Monday that Iran and France’s views on the deal have moved closer, mainly after phone calls between President Hassan Rouhani and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
“Fortunately the points of views have become closer on many issues and now technical discussions are being held on ways to carry out the Europeans’ commitments (in the nuclear deal),” the spokesman, Ali Rabiei, said in remarks carried by state television. He did not go into details.
Two Iranian officials and one diplomat told Reuters on Aug. 25 that Iran wants to export a minimum of 700,000 barrels per day of its oil and ideally up to 1.5 million bpd if the West wants to negotiate with Tehran to save the nuclear deal.
“Iran’s oil should be purchased and its money accessible,” Rabiei said on Monday.
Iran’s oil exports have plummeted because of the U.S. sanctions, which also make it difficult for the country to receive payments through banks.
Reporting by Tuqa Khalid; Additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Peter Graff and Hugh Lawson, William Maclean