President Hassan Rouhani has warned that Iran could take "the most important" step away from its nuclear commitments under a deal with world powers but says Tehran will give Europe two more months to salvage the agreement as it is unlikely that the two sides will reach an agreement "today or tomorrow."
Iranian media quoted Rouhani as making the comments at a cabinet meeting on September 4, where he also said Tehran would announce a "third step" to reduce its nuclear commitments under the deal and thus accelerate its nuclear activities.
He said the third step will be "the most important one" and "will have extraordinary effects."
The announcement comes amid a flurry of recent talks among Iran, France, and Russia to preserve the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) from 2015, which U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned last year.
On September 3, reports suggested France was prepared to offer Iran $15 billion in credit lines until the end of the year -- guaranteed by oil -- in return for Tehran adhering again to the JCPOA's terms.
But that arrangement seemingly hinged on cooperation from Washington, which reimposed unilateral sanctions and has pressed other states to avoid doing business with Iran.
And Iran's state-run Press TV, without citing a source, said that country had rejected the $15 billion credits proposal.
Trump has pursued a policy of "maximum pressure" to force Iranian officials into new negotiations over their nuclear and missiles programs.
Earlier on September 4, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying that "it is unlikely European countries can take an effective step" before a weekend deadline set by Iran.
Rouhani has ruled out bilateral talks with the United States, conditioning multilateral talks on the lifting of sanctions.
On September 2, Tehran threatened to "take a strong step" away from the deal if Europe could not offer new terms by the end of this week.
The United States this week announced new sanctions on Iran's civilian space agency and two of its research institutes, saying they are being used to advance Tehran's missile program.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran's attempt last week to test a space launch vehicle underscored "the urgency of the threat."
The JCPOA assured Iran access to world trade, including the sale of oil, in exchange for reductions in its nuclear program.
After the U.S. renewed sanctions, Tehran began exceeding some of the limits on nuclear material and threatened to further breach them on September 5 unless the three European signatories of the deal -- France, Germany, and Britain -- offered relief.