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Iran Suggests Quitting Nuclear Treaty After U.S. Tightens Sanctions

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sits for an interview with Reuters in New York, New York, U.S. April 24, 2019.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran may pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NRT) as part of retaliatory measures as the United States tightens sanctions.

"The Islamic Republic's choices are numerous, and the country's authorities are considering them.. and leaving NPT is one of them," Iranian state media quoted Zarif as saying on April 28.

Zarif’s comments come as Iran’s top general warned on April 28 that Tehran could close the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping route if it faces more "hostility.”

"We are not after closing the Strait of Hormuz but if the hostility of enemies increase, we will be able to do so," armed forces chief of staff Mohammad Bagheri told the ISNA news agency.

Washington has been stepping up the political and economic pressure on Tehran since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

Trump in May 2018 announced Washington's withdrawal from the landmark 2015 nuclear pact and reimposed sanctions on Tehran that had been eased as terms of the accord.

Earlier this month, the White House announced it has decided not to reissue waivers in May allowing importers to buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions.

"This decision is intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue," the White House said in a statement on April 21.

Iran has threatened in the past to leave the NPT and repeatedly warned it could shut down the strait, a vital shipping lane for international oil supplies, should it find its national interests or security threatened.

"We believe Iran will continue to sell its oil...[and] use the Strait of Hormuz. But if the United States takes the crazy measure of trying to prevent us from doing that, then it should be prepared for the consequences," Zarif said on April 24.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal with six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany -- had given Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program and ensuring it is not trying to produce nuclear weapons.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP,