TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran’s president told European powers on Wednesday not to copy the United States by undermining Tehran’s strained nuclear pact with world nations, and said Tehran would not seek nuclear weapons whether or not the deal survived.
Britain, France and Germany launched a dispute mechanism in the 2015 nuclear deal this month, accusing Iran of violating the deal that has become increasingly frayed since Washington pulled out in 2018 and then reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
The dispute mechanism could ultimately lead to the case being referred to the UN Security Council to restore UN sanctions. Iranian officials have threatened a range of steps if this should happen, including quitting the 2015 deal or even withdrawing from the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Iran has gradually rolled back restrictions on its nuclear program under the 2015 deal, arguing that it has a right to do so because European countries failed to protect it from U.S. sanctions.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that the United States had made a mistake by quitting the 2015 pact.
"Do you want to make the same mistake? ... I am emphasizing that if the Europeans make a mistake and violate the deal, they will be responsible for the consequences of their actions.”
U.S. President Donald Trump says his "maximum pressure” campaign aims to drive Iran toward a broader deal that will further curb Tehran’s nuclear program, end its missile program and halt its assistance to resistance groups in the Middle East.
The three European powers have shown greater readiness to work toward what the British prime minister dubbed a "Trump deal”. France has said it might be time for a broader pact.
"In the current context, France is determined that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon, but also that we avoid all military escalation in the region,” French President Emmanuel Macron said during a trip to the Israeli-occupied Palestine.
Iran has always insisted its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, pointing to monitoring of its work by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"With or without the nuclear deal or the IAEA’s safeguards, whether our relation with the UN nuclear agency is good or bad, Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons,” Rouhani said.
The president hit out at the European parties for failing to implement the 11 commitments they had undertaken to save the nuclear deal following the U.S. withdrawal.
Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, had earlier said one of Tehran’s possible responses to the crisis would be to withdraw from the 2015 deal. Rouhani said of the pact: "We do not want to destroy it and we are still committed to the deal.”
"It was discussed that it’s possible some may take Iran’s file to the (UN) Security Council ... If this happens we will take tougher decisions such as leaving the nuclear deal,” said Vaezi, adding that President Rouhani had previously raised the possibility in a letter to the European powers.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Europe had yielded to pressure from Washington by launching the dispute mechanism in the nuclear pact, the JCPOA. He has cited a threat of U.S. tariffs if European capitals did not take action.
"When E3 sold out remnants of #JCPOA to avoid Trump tariffs last week, I warned that it would only whet his appetite,” he tweeted. "EU would do better to exert its sovereignty.”