Iran has announced it will resume high-level enrichment of uranium if world powers do not keep their promises under a 2015 nuclear agreement.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday the remaining signatories – the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia – had 60 days to implement their promises to protect Iran’s oil and banking sectors from US sanctions.
He also announced Iran would roll back some of its commitments under the deal.
Under the agreement signed in Vienna, Iran scaled back its uranium enrichment programme and promised not to pursue nuclear weapons.
The latest move came exactly one year since US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the historic accord.
Starting today, Iran does not keep its enriched uranium and produced heavy water limited. The EU/E3+2 will face Iran's further actions if they can not fulfill their obligations within the next 60 days and secure Iran's interests. Win-Win conditions will be accepted.
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) May 8, 2019
Here’s a round-up of statements from around the world:
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a visit to London on Wednesday his country would wait and see Tehran’s next move.
“I think it was intentionally ambiguous,” Pompeo said of Iran’s announcement. “We’ll have to wait and see what Iran’s actions actually are” before deciding on a US response.
“They’ve made a number of statements about actions they threatened to do in order to get the world to jump … I’m confident as we watch Iran’s activity that the United Kingdom and our European partners will move forward together to ensure Iran has no pathway for a nuclear weapons system.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the situation surrounding the fate of the nuclear accord has been complicated by the “irresponsible behaviour” of Washington.
His remarks came as he met his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Moscow on Wednesday.
Lavrov said they would discuss the “unacceptable situation” that has been exacerbated by the US.
“The US is to blame for the situation and it makes it difficult for both Iran to fulfil its obligations and … for the general state of the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” said Lavrov.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin remained committed to the agreement and there were no alternatives “at the moment” to the deal.
“Putin has repeatedly spoken about the consequences of ill-considered steps towards Iran, meaning the decision taken by Washington” to reimpose sanctions, Peskov said.
He said Russia would work with European countries to maintain the “continued viability” of the nuclear deal and it was too early to discuss the possibility of Russia joining sanctions against Tehran.
“Putin has said that it is ill-conceived and arbitrary decisions that put unreasonable pressure on Iran and cause the adverse steps that we are facing.”
China called on all parties to uphold the Iranian nuclear accord.
“Maintaining and implementing the comprehensive agreement is the shared responsibility of all parties,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a regular press briefing.
“We call on all relevant parties to exercise restraint, strengthen dialogue, and avoid escalating tensions,” he said, adding that China “resolutely opposes” unilateral US sanctions against Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear arms after Tehran’s announcement.
“We will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weaponry. We will continue to fight those who would kill us,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s prime minister has been an outspoken critic of the 2015 agreement. He welcomed Trump’s withdrawal from the deal last year. Netanyahu considers Iran to be Israel’s greatest threat.
Netanyahu said Israel “will continue to fight those who seek to take our lives, and we will thrust our roots even deeper into the soil of our homeland”.
Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons, insisting its atomic programme is entirely for peaceful purposes.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Iran’s announcement to resume higher enrichment of uranium is an “unwelcome step” and urged Iran to adhere to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Speaking at a news conference in London alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Hunt urged Iran “not to take further escalatory steps” and said Britain wasn’t ready to give up on the deal.
“For as long as Iran keeps its commitments, then so too will the United Kingdom,” Hunt said.
Hunt said Britain and the US agreed on the need to confront the threat from Iran, but “it’s no secret we have a different approach on how best to achieve that”.
Germany urged the Iranian government not to take any aggressive steps. A foreign ministry spokesman added Berlin wants to keep the Iran nuclear deal and said Berlin would fully stick to its commitments as long as Iran does the same.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said work on setting up a special-purpose vehicle for business with Iran is taking longer than expected.
“Currently, the last steps need to be taken for this corporation to be able to operate – that includes Iran making the necessary preparations on its side,” Seibert told a regular government news conference.
France’s defence minister voiced concern over Iran’s threat to resume higher enrichment of uranium, saying the question of sanctions “will be raised” if the nuclear deal isn’t respected. Florence Parly told BFMTV that “nothing would be worse than Iran leaving this deal”.
The European Union is in an “assessment phase” after Rouhani informed the other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran will partially pull out of the agreement, a senior EU official said on condition of anonymity.
“The contents of the messages sent have to be analysed,” he noted, adding consultations would take place in the coming days between the remaining signatories of the deal.
EU foreign ministers will have the first opportunity to discuss the developments at regular talks in Brussels on Monday. Any EU decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran would have to be taken by all member states.