TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran said on Monday it could quit the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if European countries refer it to the UN Security Council over a nuclear agreement.
The 1968 NPT has been the foundation of global nuclear arms control since the Cold War, including a 2015 deal Iran signed with world powers that offered it access to global trade in return for accepting curbs to its nuclear energy program.
The fate of the 2015 pact has been in doubt since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of it and reimposed sanctions. Iran has responded by scaling back its commitments, although it says it wants the pact to survive.
Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said on Monday Iran’s steps in reducing commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal are over.
"The steps of reducing commitments are finished but if the Europeans continue their improper behavior or send Iran’s file to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT,” Zarif said.
Britain, France and Germany declared Iran in violation of the 2015 pact last week and have launched a dispute mechanism that could eventually see the matter referred back to the Security Council and the reimposition of UN sanctions.
Zarif also said Iran could take other steps before withdrawing from the NPT, although he did not specify them.
The 190-member NPT bans signatories other than the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France from acquiring nuclear weapons, in return for allowing them to pursue peaceful nuclear programs for power generation, overseen by the United Nations.
The only country ever to declare its withdrawal from the NPT was North Korea, which expelled nuclear inspectors and openly tested atomic weapons. Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan never signed up, nor did the occupying regime of Israel,
which does not say whether it has nuclear weapons but is widely presumed to have them.
"Despite the ill will that we see from some European countries the door of negotiations with them has not been closed and the ball is in the court of these countries,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Monday.
But he also told a news conference: "I don’t think Iran is ready to negotiate under the conditions they have in mind.”
Since Washington withdrew from the deal, Trump began a policy of "maximum pressure”, saying a broader deal should be negotiated on nuclear issues, Iran’s missile program and Iranian role in the Middle East.
Tehran has repeatedly held talks with European officials to find ways to keep the nuclear agreement alive, but has blamed the Europeans for failing to guarantee economic benefits that Iran was meant to receive in return for curbing nuclear work.
"The European powers’ claims about Iran violating the deal are unfounded,” Mousavi said. "Whether Iran will further decrease its nuclear commitments will depend on other parties and whether Iran’s interests are secured under the deal.”
Britain has said a "Trump deal” could replace the 2015 deal, and France has called for broad talks to end the crisis.
Iran says it cannot negotiate with Trump, who broke promises by repudiating the deal reached under his predecessor Barack Obama. Mousavi repeated Iran’s rejection of a "Trump deal”.
"The fact that a person’s name is put on an agreement shows they’re not familiar with the conditions. An agreement with a person doesn’t mean anything,” he said.