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U.S. And Europe Reacting To Iran's Nuclear Decision

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) and Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (L) attend a joint press conference at the Foreign Office in central London on May 8, 2019.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) and Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (L) attend a joint press conference at the Foreign Office in central London on May 8, 2019.

European powers, United Kingdom, France and Germany announced Thursday, May 9 that they reject "Iran's ultimatum" of 60 days to come up with a way to help Tehran against U.S. sanctions.

They also said that they "note with great concern the statement made by Iran concerning its commitments" to the nuclear deal.

At the same time the EU powers say they "regret the re-imposition of sanctions" by the U.S. and remain "determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran."

Iran's announcement that it is suspending the full implementation of the 2015 nuclear agreement was "intentionally ambiguous," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, May 8.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, in London, Pompeo reiterated, "I think it was intentionally ambiguous... We'll have to wait and see what Iran's actions actually are, before deciding our response."

Furthermore, Pompeo insisted that the United States will wait and see if Iran follows through on threats to limit its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. Then, we can make better decisions.

Meanwhile a senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States is planning to impose further sanctions on the Islamic Republic 'very soon.'

Special Assistant to President Donald Trump and Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Biodefense, Tim Morrison asserted that Washington was not 'done' with imposing sanctions on Iran.

"Expect more sanctions soon. Very soon," he said.

Echoing his American guest's concerns, the British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, also called Iran's threat to resume higher enrichment of uranium is an "unwelcome step."

He urged Iran to adhere to a 2015 nuclear deal with the West, which President Trump unilaterally dropped last year.

"I urge Iran not to take further escalatory steps," Hunt said in London while warning Tehran of severe consequences if it breaks its commitments under the JCPOA.

Earlier, France and Germany had also voiced similar concerns on Iran's decision.

Nevertheless, he immediately noted that Britain was not ready to give up on the deal "for as long as Iran keeps its commitments then so too will the United Kingdom," Hunt said.

In the meantime, Pompeo stressed that while Washington was monitoring Iran's activities, Britain and other European allies are attempting to ensure Tehran would not move toward producing nuclear weapons.

Moreover, Pompeo said that he has discussed with his EU partners the case of European Special Purpose Vehicle offered to Iran.

Three European state, Germany, France and the U.K., have set up INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to help Tehran with limited trade despite U.S. sanctions.

Nonetheless, Pompeo averred that as long as INSTEX is limited to humanitarian deals, it would not be targeted by the U.S. sanctions.

Overall, Pompeo seemed to narrow any gaps U.S. policy might have with its European allies, trying to downplay differences.

In the meantime, Brian Hook, the State Department's special envoy for Iran, said Iran's decision to limit compliance is against international procedures, and it’s a step toward taking the world hostage, Hook noted.

"We will never be held hostage to the Iran regime's nuclear blackmail," Hook told journalists on a call today marking the first anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

According to Hook, the Trump Administration's "maximum pressure campaign" against Iran was working, and the pressure on Tehran will continue if its behavior does not changed.

"Our campaign of maximum pressure is just getting started," Hook said. "There is a lot more to come."

The value of Iran's national currency, the rial, has dropped to record lows, its annual inflation rate has quadrupled, and foreign investment has shrunk dramatically.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP