Iran warns US to drop sanctions as time runs out for nuclear deal | News | DW | 26.06.2019

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Iran warns US to drop sanctions as time runs out for nuclear deal

Even while insisting they do not want a war, leaders of Iran and the US have again ratcheted up international tension. The EU is scrambling to salvage the landmark 2015 deal that froze Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the United States should drop sanctions against Iran and return to a 2015 nuclear deal to de-escalate soaring tensions between the two countries.

"The return to the nuclear deal would be the shortest way to secure the interests of all sides ... and also good for the world, the region and especially the international [nuclear] non-proliferation treaty," he said.

The United States broke with its European allies last year by withdrawing from the accord and reapplying harsh economic sanctions against Iran. The agreement had included sanctions relief in exchange for Iran accepting limitations to its nuclear program.

Read more: Iran nuclear-deal crisis: Is war with the US ahead? 

Since then, the US has imposed more sanctions to try to force unconditional talks on a more stringent agreement.

"We can only tell the Americans that your way was a mistake," Rouhani said.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei struck a less conciliatory tone. "The Iranian people will never bow to the most hated and malevolent government in the world," he said, according to his website.

The statements came days after the US President Donald Trump dropped plans to bomb Iran in response to its downing of a US drone. Trump instead signed another round of sanctions.

That incident followed attacks on several oil tankers in the Persian Gulf that Trump blamed on the Iranian military.

Read more: Germany says there is 'strong evidence' Iran behind tanker attacks

Fading European hopes to save deal

On Wednesday, the European Union's UN ambassador urged Iran and the US to salvage the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"The JCPOA ... has been working and delivering on its goals," Joao Vale de Almeida told the UN Security Council. "There is also no credible, peaceful alternative."

French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre told the body that the accord's demise "brings with it uncertainty and potentially grave consequences for the region, for the nonproliferation regime and for our collective security."

Read more: Iran sanctions: 5 things to know

"Tehran must refrain from any measure that would place Iran in breach of its commitments," he said.

Iran's UN ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said the US withdrawal from the deal and reimposition of sanctions had "rendered the JCPOA almost fully ineffective."

"Iran alone cannot, shall not and will not take all of the burdens any more to preserve the JCPOA," he added.

Iranian non-compliance imminent

Iran announced in March that it would partially withdraw from the deal. On Wednesday, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said the country could potentially exceed one of the deal's enrichment limits on Thursday.

"The deadline of the Atomic Energy Organization for passing the production of enriched uranium from the 300-kilogram limit will end tomorrow," the IRIB news agency quoted spokesman Behrouz Kamalvindi as saying.

The country had exported excess uranium to keep its stockpile within limits. Recent US sanctions blocked all further sales abroad.

The Atomic Energy Organization previously said it could breach another limit on the enrichment of uranium after July 7 if no new agreement is in place.

Iran war 'wouldn't last very long'

Trump told US broadcaster Fox News on Wednesday that he thought Iran's leadership was not "smart."

"Look what's happened to Iran. Iran is going down the tubes. Their people can't eat. They are rioting all over their streets," he said.

Asked if a war with the country was imminent, the president said: "I'm not talking boots on the ground. I'm just saying if something would happen, it wouldn't last very long."

amp/sms (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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