Iranian FM warns US against violation of nuclear deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warns that Tehran is ready to restore its nuclear activities to the level it was before the 2015 deal with the P5+1 states, including the US, should Washington fail to keep its end of the nuclear bargain.

Speaking to reporters in the central Iranian city of Esfahan on Monday, Zarif underscored Iran’s determination to abide by its commitments under the nuclear accord, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran “is fully prepared to return to the pre-JCPOA situation or even [to conditions] more robust than that if the US reneges on its promises to the extent that the JCPOA’s continuation harms our national interests,” Zarif pointed out.

The foreign minister further said that Iranian nuclear scientists have managed to put into operation “the country’s most advanced centrifuge” over the past two months, adding, “At present, we possess the know-how to manufacture and use centrifuges with [an enrichment] capacity 20 times more than that of previous centrifuges.”

On Monday, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini strongly defended Iran’s nuclear deal with the P5+1, pointing out that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed Iran’s compliance with JCPOA five times since it took effect in January 2016.

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The IAEA is monitoring the technical implementation of the JCPOA, which was signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the US, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany -- on July 14, 2015.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

Mogherini was apparently responding to US President Donald Trump’s attacks on the nuclear accord. During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to tear up the agreement, hardly missing any chance to call it the worst deal ever.

US President Donald Trump (R) meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House on March 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Also during a meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the White House on Monday, the billionaire-turned-president said he was wondering why his predecessor Barack Obama supported the deal, and that “nobody” knows why.

“One of the things I did ask is, ‘Why did President Obama sign that agreement with Iran?’ Because nobody has been able to figure that one out... But maybe someday we will be able to figure that one out,” Trump said.

In his report on verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015), delivered to the IAEA Board of Governors in early March, Director General Yukiya Amano once again confirmed Tehran’s adherence to the nuclear deal.

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