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Major Powers, Israel React To Tehran's Partial Suspension Of Nuclear Deal

A view of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, October 31, 2017. File photo

Iran's partners in the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran had mixed reactions to Iran's partial withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with Russia and China supporting Tehran, while European powers sending warnings to Iran. One of them, France, has warned that Iran's violation of its commitment to JCPOA may lead to further European sanctions against Tehran.

EU leaders are going to meet on Thursday May 9 to discuss the implications of Tehran's move. However, French Defense Minister Florence Parly warned that further sanctions may be under way in case Iran does not remain committed to the terms of the JCPOA.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in Tehran on Wednesday that his country will stop selling its heavy water and enriched Uranium effective immediately. However, he added: "We shall return to where we were if within 60 days Russia, China, Germany, France and the UK come to the negotiating table to ensure our interests particularly in the area of oil exports and international banking."

He was referring to the hardest-hitting parts of US sanctions against Iran following America's pull-out from the JCPOA.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met with UK’ foreign secretary said Iran is blackmailing Europe by its recent move concerning JCPOA. Pompeo added Iran’s decision today was a return to weapons grade enrichment. He said Iran’s letter was vague, but the U.S. will wait and see.

In another reaction from Europe Germany called on Iran to uphold the nuclear pact. Berlin wants to keep alive the agreement, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert, adding that "We as Europeans, and as Germans, will play our part and we expect full implementation from Iran as well".

The United Kingdom has called on Tehran not to take escalatory steps. Britain is extremely concerned about Iran’s announcement that it is scaling back curbs to its nuclear program, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Wednesday.

Britain’s Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said at a joint news conference with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo that UK supports the JCPOA, but is concerned about Iran’s recent move and calls on Tehran to fulfil its commitment.
“We are extremely concerned about this announcement and urge Iran to continue to meet its commitments under the deal and not to take escalatory steps,” the spokesman for Mrs. May told reporters in London, adding, “This deal is a crucial agreement which makes the world safer and we will ensure it remains in place for as long as Iran upholds these commitments.”

Meanwhile, both China and Russia blamed Washington's withdrawal from the deal for the current situation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Russia expects the European signatories to JCPOA to fulfill their obligations under the pact.

Speaking after talks in Moscow with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Lavrov told reporters the situation around the nuclear deal was making it hard for Tehran to fulfill its obligations according to the JCPOA.

Lavrov characterized the United States' stance about the JCPOA as "irresponsible" and "unacceptable."

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China appreciated Iran's "strict implementation" of its 2015 nuclear deal, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a year ago. "We regret that the U.S. has further aggravated the tension on the Iranian nuclear issue," Geng said.

According to AP, China's expression of support came despite a threat from Iran on Wednesday to resume higher enrichment of uranium in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for the 2015 deal. The AP report noted that Geng's comments follow moves by Washington to deploy an aircraft carrier and a bomber wing to confront unspecified threats from Tehran.

One of the strongest reaction's to Iran's suspension of some key provisions of its nuclear deal with major powers came from Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, one of the leading critics of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers.

Netanyahu said once again on Wednesday, "We will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons."

Speaking on the occasion of the memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, Netanyahu said Israel will continue to fight its enemies and "will imbed our roots even deeper into our homeland."

"That is what our heroes did at the dawn of the nation's rebirth, and we are marching in their path," he added.

The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and the ensuing sanctions imposed on Tehran halted promised international business deals and dealt a heavy blow to Iran's troubled economy.

Following the declaration of Iran's new positions about the nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said "Only Russia and China have supported Iran," and accused the other signatories to the JCPOA of "not fulfilling their commitment."

As Iran's move on Wednesday was anticipated to further destabilize the economy, Iran's Central Bank Governor Abdolnasser Hemmati says the bank has taken some preparatory measures. Nevertheless, the rate of exchange for every US dollar in the Tehran market rose to 155,000, nearly 10,000 rials higher than a few days ago.