Iran is expected to announce plans to scale back compliance with a landmark nuclear deal on the anniversary of the United States‘s decision to withdraw from the international accord, state media reported on Tuesday.
Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, will convey details of the “decision to reduce its commitments” to ambassadors of the five countries still party to the agreement – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – at a meeting on Wednesday, state news agency IRNA reported.
The US unilaterally withdrew on May 8, 2018, from the 2015 multilateral deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of biting sanctions.
US President Donald Trump has since restored US sanctions and extended them, effectively ordering countries around the world to stop buying Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
The US also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as “terrorists”, and on Sunday, announced it was deploying a naval strike group to the Middle East because of indications of a “credible threat from Iranian regime forces”.
Exactly what prompted the US action was unclear, and Iran dismissed the move as “psychological warfare”.
But it marked a further step in sharply rising tensions between the Trump administration and Iran.
Tehran has continued complying with the deal, and Washington’s European allies, which oppose the US pull-out, have tried and failed so far to come up with ways to blunt the economic impact of the US move.
IRNA blamed Iran’s decision to roll back compliance with the accord on the failure of the deal’s remaining partners to save it.
The news agency said Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, will send a letter to the five countries’ heads of state in order to “clearly emphasise how much Iran has commanded patience regarding the JCPOA”.
In his letter, Rouhani will state that “other parties to the deal have failed to live up to their commitments so that Iran is left no other way but to reduce its commitments,” IRNA said.
The news agency also quoted a senior legislator, Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, as saying that Iran’s response to the US moves “will be within the framework” of the 2015 deal.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, will explain the “technical and legal details of reduction of Iran’s commitments” in a separate letter to Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, it added.
Since the US reimposed sanctions against Iran in November its economy has taken a battering; inflation has shot up, its currency has plummeted and imports are now vastly more expensive.
The three European parties to the deal tried to save the accord with a trade mechanism called Instex, meant to bypass reimposed US sanctions, but their attempt was dismissed by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a “bitter joke”.
Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear deal calling it “defective at its core”.
His administration then issued a list of 12 steep demands for new negotiations, including halting its ballistic missile programme and ceasing support for armed groups in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, prompting a quick dismissal from Iran.