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Iran's Deputy FM Reiterates Gradual Withdrawal From Nuclear Deal

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi outlining his country's decision for a gradual withdrawal from the nuclear deal. May 8, 2019

Iran has outlined a step-by-step withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the country’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs disclosed on May 8.

"We have not left JCPOA yet, but we have put such a move on our agenda, and that would happen step by step," Abbas Araqchi said in an interview with the state-run Channel 2 television.

Following Washington's decision last week to repeal two waivers on nuclear cooperation with Iran, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) officially declared Tehran's exit from "certain" obligations under the landmark 2015 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.

The decision was officially relayed in separate letters to the ambassadors of five countries still party to JCPOA: the United Kingdom, China, France, Germany, and Russia.

Araqchi gave the letters to the ambassadors, who had been invited to the Foreign Ministry.

The letters’ contents are confidential and kept at the JCPOA Joint Commission document center. However, according to informed sources, they specify the details of the decision made by the SNSC, which is headed by President Hassan Rouhani.

Elaborating on Iran's new strategy, Araqchi told Channel 2, "No country can accuse Iran of breaching or leaving the nuclear deal. All the measures Tehran has adopted so far, including Wednesday's move, has been within the deal's framework, and in the interests of the people of Iran."

Meanwhile, Araqchi stressed that the withdrawal from JCPOA will happen and if Iran's counterparts fulfil their commitments then Iran will step back accordingly.

Araqchi's comment was a reflection of what Rouhani had earlier said in a speech aired by the monopolized state-run TV.

"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 maintained.

Nonetheless, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have warned Tehran May 8 of severe consequences if it breaks its commitments under JCPOA. On May 9, the European powers rejected Iran’s 60-day deadline as an “ultimatum”.