U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Iran’s actions call for all nations to reject its “nuclear extortion” and take “serious steps to increase pressure.”
Pompeo made the call on November 7, after Tehran rolled back another commitment under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers by resuming enriching uranium at its underground Fordow facility.
Enriched uranium can be used to make reactor fuel, but can also potentially be used to produce nuclear weapons.
It is the fourth such step Tehran has taken in response to the sanctions reinstated by the United States after President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the nuclear agreement in May 2018.
It is the fourth such step Iran has taken in response to the sanctions reinstated by Washington after the United States withdrew from the nuclear agreement in May 2018.
“Iran’s latest nuclear escalations reflect the regime’s intentions all along: to extort the international community into accepting its violence and terror while it undermines the sovereignty of its neighbors,” Pompeo said in its statement.
The international community “should imagine how Iran would behave with a nuclear weapon. The United States will never allow this to happen,” he added.
“It is now time for all nations to reject this regime’s nuclear extortion and take serious steps to increase pressure. Iran’s continued and numerous nuclear provocations demand such action,” the state secretary also said.
Under the 2015 nuclear accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities in return from the lifting of economic sanctions.
Iranian officials complain that the remaining parties to the pact have failed to mitigate the effects of the U.S. sanctions.
Trump wants to force Iran to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear accord through fresh sanctions, arguing that the terms were not tough enough to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons, agree on curbs to its ballistic-missile program, and end its destabilizing activities in the Middle East.
Iran has denied it supports insurgent activity and says its nuclear program is strictly for civilian energy purposes. Iranian officials have also ruled out any negotiations on the country's missile program.
Also on November 7, the United States called Iran's holding of an inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) an "outrageous provocation."
Reuters reported the previous day that Iran had briefly held the inspector and seized her travel documents.
Iran confirmed the inspector was prevented from gaining access to its Natanz uranium-enrichment facility last week, saying she tested positive for traces of explosives.
Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, which is in charge of monitoring Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, said the inspector was repatriated and Tehran had asked that she be removed from the list of designated inspectors.
There was no comment from the IAEA.
But the U.S. ambassador to the UN nuclear agency, Jackie Wolcott, called on all 35 members of the IAEA’s Board of Governors to "make clear now and going forward that such actions are completely unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and must have consequences."
The European Union said it was "deeply concerned" by the incident and called on Tehran to "ensure that no such incidents occur in the future."