In a televised address, President Hassan Rouhani said his country was reducing its own commitments under the agreement and would no longer respect limits on its reserves of low-enriched uranium – currently limited to 300 kilograms (661 pounds) – and heavy water.
Rouhani issued a 60-day moratorium for rest of the signatories of the pact to fulfill Iran’s demands and save the country’s banking system and oil trade from international sanctions.
“We have never been the first to violate the commitments or to wage wars, but at the same time we have never surrendered to bullying and will not do so, and we will certainly give appropriate response to any kind of aggression,” Rouhani said.
The announcement comes exactly a year after the United States abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action it had signed with Iran along with Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom as co-signatories.
Rouhani specified that the measure – which would mean Iran would not abide by the condition to sell its enriched uranium and heavy water beyond given limits – had a 60-day deadline, during which Tehran would wait for response from the remaining JCPOA signatories.
After unilaterally withdrawing from the agreement, the US had reimposed sanctions on Iran in August and November, mainly targeting its banking and oil sectors.
“If the five countries come to the negotiation table to come to terms with Iran‘s interests, particularly with regard to oil and banking, we would return to the previous position,” the president said.
But if this was not the case, he warned of a further two-step response, which would include Iran not abiding with the commitment to not enrich uranium beyond the agreed limit of 3.67 percent, and taking steps to complete the Arak Heavy Water Reactor, which was supposed to be built with the help of the 5+1 group, signatories to the JCPOA.
However, the Iranian president insisted that the reduction in the number of nuclear commitments was aimed at saving the deal, adding that Iran had chosen the path of diplomacy and not war.
“It is not the end of JCPOA, rather it is a new phase of the deal in the context and in line with the wording of the JCPOA. (…) The deal is in need of a surgery, so Iran is trying to save it, not kill it. ” Rouhani said.
Rouhani insisted that Iran had not left the dialog table and was always ready to negotiate “within the very framework of the JCPOA, neither a word more nor less.”
He reminded that under articles 26 and 36 of JCPOA, Iran had a right to reduce commitments if the other parties did not fulfill their obligations.
He also criticized the other signatories to the deal.
“The European signatories to the JCPOA were doing well in lip service, but practically they were unable to implement what they vowed,” he said.
The JCPOA limits Iran‘s nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions, but has been weakened after Washington’s exit.
European countries have taken a series of measures to counter US sanctions, including a special payment channel, but they have proved largely unsuccessful. (May 8, 2019, EFE/Practica Español)