Iran warned it is ready to "vigorously" resume nuclear enrichment if the United States ditches the 2015 nuclear deal, and said further "drastic measures" are being considered in response to a U.S. exit.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Iran is not seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb, but that its "probable" response to a U.S. withdrawal would be to restart production of enriched uranium, a key bomb-making ingredient.
"America never should have feared Iran producing a nuclear bomb, but we will pursue vigorously our nuclear enrichment," added Zarif, who is in the United States to attend a U.N. meeting on sustaining peace, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
Speaking to reporters in New York on Saturday, Mohammad Javad Zarif also said that for French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel "to try to appease the president [Donald Trump] would be an exercise in futility."Trump will decide by May 12 whether to restore U.S. economic sanctions on Tehran, which would be a severe blow to the 2015 pact between Iran and six major powers. He has pressured European allies to work with Washington to fix the deal.
Macron and Merkel are both due to meet with Trump in Washington this week."The United States has not only failed to implement its side [of the deal], but is even asking for more," said Zarif, as reported by Reuters.
"That's a very dangerous message to send to people of Iran but also to the people of the world - that you should never come to an agreement with the United States because at the end of the day the operating principle of the United States is 'what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable,'" he said.
Britain, France and Germany have proposed fresh EU sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles and its role in Syria's war in a bid to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. The 2015 agreement between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China obliged Tehran to scale down its nuclear program to prevent the development of nuclear weapons. Western sanctions were lifted in return. The deal, which was negotiated during the Obama administration, limits Iran's enrichment and stockpiling of material that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program. In exchange, Tehran was granted widespread relief from international trade, oil and banking sanctions. Trump has delivered an ultimatum to the European signatories to fix what he saw as the "terrible flaws" of the deal, threatening to refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran.
The Trump administration has vowed to confront Iran much more aggressively in the region where it shares the Saudi view that Tehran is fomenting instability via a number of proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen among other countries. Tehran denies the allegations. Referring to Iran as "the number one terrorist state," Trump said the Middle Eastern country supplies money and weapons to terrorist groups. The Trump administration hit the ground running, re-imposing sanctions against Iran in its first weeks in office and also instating restrictions against those who are complicit with Tehran.