Iran faces backlash over ‘nuclear blackmail’

Iran faces backlash over ‘nuclear blackmail’
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President Hassan Rouhani said last month Iran would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water. (AP/File photo)
Iran faces backlash over ‘nuclear blackmail’
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Behrouz Kamalvandi made the comment in a news conference on Monday. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 June 2019

Iran faces backlash over ‘nuclear blackmail’

Iran faces backlash over ‘nuclear blackmail’
  • US, Europe reject Tehran’s threat to increase its uranium stockpile

JEDDAH: Iran faced a backlash from Europe and the US on Monday after it threatened to breach uranium stockpile limits set by the 2015 deal to curb its nuclear program.

The White House said Iran’s new threat was “nuclear blackmail” and European signatories to the agreement said the regime in Tehran must stick to its commitments.

Iran set a 10-day countdown on Monday to exceed the 300-kilogram limit set on its enriched uranium stocks, dealing another blow to the crumbling nuclear accord signed by Tehran and six international powers.

“Iran’s enrichment plans are only possible because the horrible nuclear deal left their capabilities intact,” US National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said. “President Trump has made it clear that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The regime’s nuclear blackmail must be met with increased international pressure.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also rejected the Iranian ultimatum. “We have already said in the past that we will not accept less for less. It is up to Iran to stick to its obligations,” he said. “We will certainly not accept a unilateral reduction of obligations.”

A spokesman for the British government said the European signatories to the deal had “consistently made clear that there can be no reduction in compliance.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would hold talks with Iran and its partners to avoid any further escalation in the region.

“I regret the Iranian announcements made … and we strongly encourage it to be patient and responsible,” Macron said. He said there was a window between now and July 8 for more dialogue to save the nuclear deal.

“All forms of escalation do not go in the right direction and won’t help Iran itself and the international community, so we will do all we can with our partners to dissuade Iran and find a possible path for dialogue.”

European countries have been trying to save the nuclear deal since US President Donald Trump withdrew last May and reimposed crippling economic sanctions. Iran has demanded their help to sidestep the sanctions, and in particular to enable it to sell oil on world markets.