T he European Union should be concerned about the United States’ illegal policies instead of worrying about Iran’s reciprocal steps to reduce its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, President Hassan Rouhani said.
“Your concern should be about the US that has violated the whole agreement and has undermined all international treaties,” he said in response to a statement by European countries calling on Tehran to reverse its recent nuclear measures, his website reported.
Iran started to gradually scale back its obligations under the nuclear deal in May, a year after Washington pulled out and reimposed harsh sanctions that other parties have not been able to make up for.
It has so far implemented two phases of its plan.
Officials in Tehran say the country will take one step at a time every 60 days as long as its core concerns are not met by the remaining parties, particularly the European Union.
The United Nations nuclear watchdog confirmed on Monday that Iran has enriched above the maximum allowed limit stipulated in the deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain and the high representative of the European Union issued a statement on Tuesday, expressing “deep concern” about the move.
“Iran has stated that it wants to remain within the JCPOA. It must act accordingly by reversing these activities and returning to full JCPOA compliance without delay,” the statement read.
They also called for an urgent meeting of the Joint Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement, to address the compliance issues within the framework of the deal.
Rouhani stressed that Iran is not violating, but is acting within the framework of JCPOA.
“We are not violators and have not undermined the structure of JCPOA,” he said.
Iran argues that it is acting based on a paragraph of the deal that allows the reduction of compliance when a party believes other signatories are not fulfilling their obligations.
“We gave you 14 months and later two more months after our new step. Iran’s measures are completely appropriate and within legal frameworks,” Rouhani said.
After the first phase of the plan, Iran gave Europe a 60-day deadline to try to facilitate Iran’s oil sales and banking relations. It entered the second stage when they failed to address the concerns and set another 60-day deadline before initiating the next phase.
“Our steps will be gradual, but of an ascending order … Our primary goal is to preserve JCPOA and encourage others to [respect] logic, ethics and international law and agreements,” the president said.
The US has expressed willingness to start dialogue with Iran on the issue, but kept tightening its sanctions at the same time.
The American pressure also has a military dimension, as it increased its naval presence in the Persian Gulf on the grounds of alleged threats by Iran against its so-called interests in the region.
Iran has refused to enter into talks, as long as it is under pressure.
“If they [the US] think negotiation is the solution to the current crisis, they should lift the sanctions and return to compliance [with JCPOA],” Rouhani said.
He noted that as long as the Iranians’ economic conditions and the country’s banking relations, imports and exports are troubled, “offers of negotiations are definitely duplicitous”.