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Iran Says Showing ‘Maximum Restraint’ Despite U.S. Pullout From Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at Abe's official residence in Tokyo on May 16, 2019.

Iran’s foreign minister says Tehran is showing "maximum restraint" despite the U.S. withdrawal from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, and he accused Washington of unnecessarily raising tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

"The escalation by the United States is unacceptable," Mohammad Javad Zarif said on May 16 in Tokyo, where he held talks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono.

"We exercise maximum spite of the fact that the United States withdrew from JCPOA last May," he added, using the initials for the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Zarif said Tehran remains "committed" to the deal, noting that international inspectors have said Iran is in compliance with the agreement.

He expressed hope that Japan and other U.S. allies will take "practical measures in order to maintain this valuable international agreement."

President Donald Trump a year ago pulled the United States out of the deal Tehran signed with six world powers and reimposed financial sanctions. The accord provided Tehran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programs. In pulling out of the accord, Trump said the terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and did not address Iran's missile program or Tehran's alleged support for militants in the region. Iran denies it aids extremists in the Middle East.

Trump has also ordered a beefing up of U.S. military assets in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, citing possible threats from Iran. The State Department also ordered the evacuation of all nonessential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, citing tensions with neighboring Iran. Both sides have said they do not want a war, and Trump has urged Iranian officials to engage in negotiations.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters and dpa