President calls US sanctions ‘crime against humanity’
President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday suspending some commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal is a “minimum” measure Iran can adopt a year after the United States withdrew from the accord and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Contrary to how some countries are trying to project Iran’s decision, “what we did was Iran’s minimum measure [in the face of the breaches],” Rouhani said in Tehran on Wednesday, addressing a cabinet meeting.
Rouhani announced on May 8 that Iran would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water agreed under the deal, a move he said was in retaliation for the unilateral US withdrawal.
Tehran on Monday followed through with a 10-day countdown for world powers to fulfill their commitments under the nuclear deal.
Iran has threatened to go even further in scaling down nuclear commitments in 60 days unless remaining partners to the deal – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – help it circumvent US sanctions and especially enable it to sell its oil.
Rouhani reminded that Iran’s measure fits within the articles 26 and 36 of the nuclear deal. “The other party, however, has not only refused to keep its commitments..., but also brought the JCPOA’s main spirit into question,” he said using the official named of the nuclear accord.
He defined the spirit of the agreement as “restoration of decent economic relationship between Iran and the world.”
Rouhani again cautioned that the country would take further nuclear measures if its interests continue to be compromised despite what it is entitled to under the JCPOA.
However, all the retaliatory measures would be reversed if the other parties to the agreement live up to their contractual obligations, he added, and said, “This is Iran’s clear logic.”
The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said Wednesday that Tehran will not give European powers any more time beyond the 60-day deadline to save its nuclear deal by shielding it from US sanctions.
"Iran's two-month deadline to the remaining parties to the JCPOA cannot be extended," Behrouz Kamalvandi said.
He also noted that Iran has taken the second step to suspend some of its commitments under the JCPOA and would precisely follow its timetables in that regard.
The accord requires Iran to curb its uranium enrichment capacity, capping Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium at 300 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride enriched to 3.67 percent or its equivalent for 15 years.
A series of more UN inspections under the deal has verified that Iran has been meeting its commitments.
"According to the law that stipulates the appropriate and reciprocal measure of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in implementing the JCPOA, our move depends on the way the other JCPOA parties honor their commitments," Kamalvandi said. "It will not be possible that we fulfill our obligations and they (the remaining JCPOA parties) practically do nothing," Kamalvandi said.
He also stressed that Iran was actually making a balance between its commitments and rights.
Iran would honor its commitments if the JCPOA parties recognize its rights, which require the lifting of sanctions, the nuclear official added.
"We are taking measures in a consecutive and interconnected manner and there are no conditions to go backward," he said.
Tensions have been stoking between Iran and the United States since President Donald Trump in May last year pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal.
Since then, Trump has restored and extended sanctions, forcing countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
“This is not sanctioning. This is a crime against humanity and economic terrorism,” Rouhani said, reminding that the bans target not only the country’s vital industries, but also foodstuffs and Iranians’ daily requirements.
Therefore, the US should be held to account in the face of the Iranian people and the world’s public opinion, Rouhani noted.
However, Washington has suffered a “100-percent defeat” in its anti-Iran campaign, which it launched thinking it could compromise the country's Islamic establishment and alienate the Iranians from it, the president said.
Not only did not the US manage to isolate Iran, but Washington itself was afflicted with isolation, he added, explaining that American authorities themselves have confessed to suffering defeat in their Iran approach and that the world had now turned against Washington’s "unilateralism."
Rouhani said Iran will not negotiate with the United States under pressure.
Reuters, AFP and Press TV contributed to this report.