Iranian leader announces partial withdrawal from nuclear deal

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Source: STEPHANIE KEITH / REUTERS

Iran will partially withdraw from a landmark nuclear deal signed with six other nations in 2015, amid heightened pressure from the United States in recent weeks.

President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech Wednesday that Iran would reduce its “commitments” to the deal, but would not fully withdraw.

The move comes a year after the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal, over the stringent objections of other signatories. Rouhani said those signatories — France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China — had been informed in advance of Tehran’s move.

He accused “hardliners” in the US of working to undermine the deal, saying it was “in the interests of the region and the world, but not the enemies of Iran, therefore they spared no effort since 2015 to undermine (the deal).”

Under the agreement, Iran was permitted to stockpile limited amounts enriched uranium and heavy water produced in that process, exporting any excess. Doing so has become extremely difficult after the US revoked waivers that allowed Iran to export those excess stockpiles, effectively forcing Iran to halt enrichment or ignore the limits, which it is now doing.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran declares that at the current stage, it does not any more see itself committed to respecting the limitations on keeping enriched uranium and heavy water reserves,” Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) said in a statement carried by the semi-official Fars news agency.

The SNSC said other partners would have 60 days to alleviate pressure on Iran caused by subsequent US sanctions, otherwise the country “will cease implementation of restrictions on uranium enrichment levels and measures related to the modernization of Arak Heavy Water Reactor as well.”

“Once our demands are met, we will resume implementation of the ceased undertakings. Otherwise, the Islamic Republic of Iran will stop compliance with its other undertakings in consequent phases,” the SNSC said.

On Twitter, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the country was stopping measures that Washington “has made impossible to continue.”

“Our action is within the terms of (the deal),” said Zarif adding that the other signatories had “a narrowing window to reverse this.”

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has always maintained that its nuclear research is purely civilian in nature.