TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran has told Europe it will not reverse its decision to increase uranium enrichment beyond the limits set by the 2015 nuclear accord until it achieves its "full rights” to an economic relationship with the EU under the deal.
Ali Shamkhani, a senior security official, made his remarks on Wednesday as he met a senior French diplomat sent to Tehran by the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
Shamkhani said the Iranian strategy is unchangeable, and stated European countries have shown a lack of will to keep their side of the bargain.
The two-day visit by the French envoy to Tehran, Emmanuel Bonne, was seen as probably the last attempt to broker a deal before Europe decided to put Iran’s actions into the formal dispute mechanism of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Guardian wrote.
"If the dispute mechanism is unable to resolve the differences, it is likely the EU will restore sanctions against Iran that were taken off when the deal was first signed,” the British newspaper added.
Iran’s foreign minister said the "trigger mechanism” cannot be enforced to reciprocate Iran’s moves with regard to the Iran nuclear deal.
"The trigger mechanism cannot become operational,” said Muhammad Javad Zarif after a cabinet meeting. "The JCPOA has a mechanism which is supposed to stop violations of the deal,” said the top diplomat.
"Now, the JCPOA has been breached, and Iran has enforced that mechanism,” Zarif underlined.
He further said Iran will not agree to attending talks with other parties under pressure. "They should stop pressure and economic war against Iranian people, and then there will be a chance to talks about the JCPOA.”
Zarif also touched upon a meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about Iran’s nuclear activities slated for later Wednesday.
In a tweet, Zarif said it was ironic Wednesday’s meeting had been called by the United States, given it had withdrawn from the nuclear deal and "punishes all who observe it.”
Diplomats in Vienna expected no concrete action as parties to the deal consider their next move.
Tehran has been demanding that the EU do more to compensate Iran for Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal last year, a withdrawal followed by a U.S. attempt to impose maximum economic pressure on Tehran, including a worldwide ban on the purchase of Iranian oil exports.
Semkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), told Bonne that Tehran regards Iran’s action as within the terms of the JCPOA because the country is entitled to downgrade its commitments if the other side fails to meet their own.
Iran has been frustrated by the slow European progress in setting up a long-planned financial mechanism designed to circumvent the impact of U.S. secondary sanctions on firms that seek to trade with Iran.
Shamkhani insisted Tehran would resist U.S. pressure, saying: "Iran has in practice proved that in economic, political and defense dimensions it has the ability and capacity to manage and deal with various tensions and challenges. You cannot speak the language of force.”
He said Europe should not have allowed the U.S. to take it hostage, and instead showed its independence from the U.S.
Bonne said: "I have not come to Iran as a mediator and do not carry any message from the U.S. to Tehran. Given Iran’s undeniable role and influence in the region, Paris is interested in continuing dialogue and cooperation with Iran to manage current crises in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.”
Iran until recently consistently lived up to its commitments under the deal, but is now in breach of two aspects, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is tasked with inspections.
Bonne arrived in Tehran after Iran announced on Monday it had surpassed 4.5 percent uranium enrichment -- above the 3.67 percent limit under the agreement.
The IAEA said on Monday that Iran has exceeded the purification cap, having earlier this month confirmed it had surpassed 300 kilograms of enriched uranium reserves, another limit that was imposed by the deal.
But in an apparent effort to boost France's diplomatic efforts, French Foreign Minister Jean-YvesLe Drian described these breaches as "slight excesses."
Bonnes' mission was "to try and open the discussion space to avoid an uncontrolled escalation, or even an accident," according to Le Drian.