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Rouhani Warns Macron Iran Will Take Next Nuclear Step


Iranian President Hassan Rohani speaks during a ceremony in the capital Tehran, August 27, 2019

President Hassan Rouhani spoke with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron Saturday, warning him Iran would take the next step in reducing its nuclear commitments unless Europe lives up to its own undertakings.

Macron has been leading efforts to de-escalate tensions between Tehran and Washington, aiming at arranging a face-to-face meetings between President Donald Trump and Rouhani.

But Rouhani has downplayed the likelihood of that happening unless the United States first lifts crippling sanctions that it has slapped on Iran since pulling out of the deal.

"If Europe cannot operationalize its commitments, Iran will take its third step to reduce its JCPOA commitments," Rouhani reportedly told Macron in the phone call.

However, "this step, just like the other ones, will be reversible," he added, quoted on the Iranian government's website.

"Unfortunately after this unilateral move by the U.S., European countries did not take concrete measures to implement their commitments," he continued.

"The contents of JCPOA are unchangeable and all parties must be committed to its contents," he said.

Iran has been demanding from Europe to continue trade despite U.S. sanctions. Europe has established a special trade mechanism but has not taken a concrete step.

Twelve months on from the U.S. pulling out of the nuclear deal, Iran began reducing its commitments.

The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Friday that just over 10 percent of Iran's uranium stockpile was now enriched up to 4.5 percent, above the 3.67 percent limit stipulated in the 2015 deal.

It also said Iran's total stockpile of uranium, which under the accord should be no more than the equivalent of 300 kilogrammes (661 pounds) of uranium hexafluoride, now stood at roughly 360 kilogrammes.

Iran has not specified what its third step might be in reducing its commitments to the deal.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a recent interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that the step would be taken on September 6.

Reporting by AFP

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