Iran pessimistic about Europe’s ability to save nuclear deal

Friday, 06 Sep, 2019

Iran has hit back with countermeasures in response to the USA withdrawal from the JCPOA, which gave it relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says the country will begin developing new centrifuges to speed up uranium enrichment.

"That's not happening", he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a recent interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that Tehran's third step to reduce nuclear obligations would be taken on September 6 if Europe fails to meet Iran's demands to fulfill its JCPOA commitments.

But the successful development of more advanced centrifuges would enable it to produce material for a potential nuclear bomb several times faster.

He explained that when the U.S. made a decision to leave the JCPOA 18 months ago, the three European signatories - France, Germany and the United Kingdom - asked Iran to stay in the deal and they will find practical solutions in order to compensate for the absence of the USA and let Iran benefit from the lifting of sanctions. "If Iran were able to sell its oil and take the money back, then we go back to the full implementation of the JCPOA".

"Europe has a two-month opportunity to return to its commitments, for talks and to reach an agreement", he said.

On Aug. 30, the International Atomic Energy Agency said just over 10 percent of Iran's uranium stockpile was enriched to 4.5 percent, above the 3.67 percent limit stipulated in the 2015 deal.

Mr Rouhani said he didn't expect a resolution by tomorrow's deadline.

A senior USA diplomat has ruled out providing any sanctions waivers to accommodate a French proposal to extend a $15 billion credit line to Iran.

The United States was cool to the idea but did not categorically reject it.

"If we had 20 issues of disagreement with the Europeans in the past, today there are three issues", he mentioned.

Wednesday's sanctions against the shipping network also come shortly after a tanker carrying Iranian crude disappeared from satellite-tracking not far from Syria's coast.

"We can't make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers", Brian Hook, the State Department coordinator on Iran, told reporters.

His announcement came shortly after the United States hit the Islamic Republic with further sanctions, the latest in a series of punitive measures including an embargo on Iranian oil exports.

Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear programme is for generating electricity and other peaceful purposes.

"We understand that our long-standing request to remove nonessential personnel from Stena Impero is now being acted upon by the Iranian government and that arrangements are underway for the release of seven crew members from the vessel, " Sweden's Stena Bulk, which owns the tanker, said in a statement Wednesday.