Iran today announced its exit from “certain” obligations under the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement and gave a 60-day deadline to world powers to protect Iran’s interests against U.S. sanctions, or it will restart high-level uranium enrichment.
At the same time, Iran President Hassan Rouhani in a speech declared that Iran’s current policy “is not war, but diplomacy”. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that his country is not exiting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA), or the nuclear agreement with world powers.
Iran announced its decisions first by a National Security Council official statement, followed by Rouhani’s televised speech.
Iran’s move falls on the exact day to a year of the U.S. decision to withdraw from JCPOA, on May 8 2018. The U.S. decision was followed by imposing stringent economic sanctions on Iran that have crippled the country’s economy, by choking off its banking relations and oil exports.
In a speech broadcast on national television, Rouhani said the remaining signatories - Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia - had 60 days to make good on their promises to protect Iran's oil and banking sectors.
Rouhani has also written to the leaders of those countries, saying it will start rolling back some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal on Wednesday, and will no longer sell enriched uranium and heavy water to other nations. "If the five countries came to the negotiating table and we reached an agreement, and if they could protect our interests in oil and banking sectors, we will go back to square one (and will resume our commitments)," Rouhani said.
Rouhani warned of a firm response if Iran's nuclear case is referred again to the United Nations Security Council, but said Tehran was ready for negotiations over its nuclear programme. "The Iranian people and the world should know that today is not the end of the JCPOA," Rouhani said, using the acronym for the nuclear deal. "These are actions in line with the JCPOA."
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also tweeted "After a year of patience, Iran stops measures that US has made impossible to continue."
Sources at the French presidency said on Tuesday that international sanctions could be reimposed on Iran if it reneges on commitments under its nuclear deal.
Iran’s national security council statement called President Donald Trump’s decisions to withdraw from JCPOA and impose sanctions “illegal” and to defend its interests, Iran will resort to articles 26 and 36 of the agreement.
The two articles are about partial or total suspension of JCPOA’s implementation, and informing the United Nations organization of the other parties' lack of commitment to the agreement.
In his speech Rouhani told other signatories which are still committed to the deal that if within 60 days they do not give the necessary commitments, Iran will “take two additional steps”.
At the same time when Iran’s statement was released and Rouhani delivered his speech, ambassadors of United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia were called to the foreign ministry to receive a letter from Rouhani, laying out Iran’s position.
The first week of May was marked by rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Washington citing warnings of planned Iranian provocations hastened the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and B-52 bombers to the region. On May 7, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unexpectedly flew to Iraq to receive guarantees from Iran’s neighbor to protect U.S. interests.