Iran has warned that they will ‘take a strong step’ away from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers if Europe does not offer the country new terms this week. Iran had previously set a Friday deadline for Europe to help Tehran sell its oil on the global market despite US sanctions. Iran has already gone over the stockpile and enrichment limitations placed on it by the 2015 deal. However, Tehran said those steps are quickly reversible. Iranian government spokesman, Ali Rabiei, pictured has said that Iran will make a ‘strong move’ away from the 2015 nuclear deal if Europe fails to offer Tehran new ways to bypass US sanctions. He told reporters that Iran’s strategy was ‘commitment for commitment’ and that money sold from Iranian crude should be available to be returned to Tehran
The landmark 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and leading world powers sought to limit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for relief of economic sanctions. US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in May last year. Iran responded by enriching its uranium, something they had agreed against in the agreement Government spokesman Ali Rabiei’s comments came as Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif goes to Moscow and his deputy travels to Paris with a team of economists for last-minute talks before the deadline. The developments come after French president Emmanuel Macron surprised the Group of Seven summit in France by inviting Mr Zarif last week. Mr Rabiei described Iran’s strategy to journalists at a press conference in Tehran as ‘commitment for commitment.’ He said: ‘Iran’s oil should be bought and its money should be accessible to return to Iran. This is the agenda of our talks.’ It is unclear what the terms of negotiation are. In theory, anyone caught buying Iranian crude oil would be subject to US sanctions and potentially locked out of the American financial market. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed last week that Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium still exceeds the amount allowed by the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA as the deal is known. The UN agency also said Iran continues to enrich uranium up to 4.5 per cent, above the 3.67 per cent allowed. Enriched uranium at the 3.67 per cent level is enough for peaceful pursuits and is far below weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent. At the 4.5 per cent level, the uranium can help power Iran’s Bushehr reactor, the country’s only nuclear power plant.
It remains unclear what further steps Iran will take, though it could involve restarting advanced centrifuges prohibited by the deal or further bumping up its enrichment of uranium. ‘We will announce implementation of the third step in a letter to the Europeans if the Europeans do not impalement necessary measures by Thursday,’ said Mr Zarif in an interview with Iran’s parliament news agency, ICANA. The nuclear deal is meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic relief. It has been complicated by the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the deal and Washington’s increased sanctions on Tehran, which have been taking a toll on the Iranian economy. That has left the other signatories – the UK, Germany, France, Russia and China – struggling to come up with enough incentives to keep Iran in the deal.
Above is a map of the uranium enrichment site in Fordow near Qom, Iran. Guard towers are spaced 25 metres apart along the perimeter which is protected by a double ring of steel. There is also an underground tunnel entrance to the facility
The Iranian vessel, the Adrian Darya-1, was spotted on Monday moving slowly outside of Lebanese territorial waters. It had been positioned just off the coast of Syria which US Secretary of State alleges was due to a trip to an oil refinery. American authorities have warned countries not to accept the vessel, which is carrying £106 million worth of crude oil Meanwhile on Monday, an Iranian oil tanker pursued by the US that has been travelling across the Mediterranean Sea is now off the coast of Tripoli in northern Lebanon. The ship-tracking website MarineTraffic.com showed the Adrian Darya 1 moving slowly just outside the Lebanese territorial waters, after it had stood off the coast of Syria a day earlier. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has alleged the ship is bound for a refinery in Syria, which was the reason that authorities had seized the vessel off the coast of Gibraltar in July. The US has warned countries not to accept the Adrian Darya, which carries 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil worth some £106 million.