President Hassan Rouhani announced Wednesday Iran will exceed the maximum enrichment level it agreed for and reactivate the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor within days, but added Iran's action would be reversed if the other parties to the nuclear deal made good on their side of the bargain – relief from US sanctions.
He added Iran’s actions are in response to the failure of the other parties to a 2015 nuclear deal to shield the country against US sanctions.
"On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67 percent. We will put aside this commitment. We will increase (the enrichment level) beyond 3.67 percent to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need," Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting.
Iran is acting on its warning to suspend parts of the agreement in response to US President Donald Trump's reimposition of crippling sanctions after withdrawing from it in May last year.
It announced on May 8 it would no longer respect the limits set on the size of its stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water.
It threatened to abandon further nuclear commitments, including exceeding the agreed uranium enrichment maximum from July 7.
The enrichment limit enshrined in the agreement is sufficient for power generation but far below the more than 90 percent level required for nukes.
Iran says its nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes including power electrify generation and medical use.
Rouhani further said Iran’s retaliatory actions were “never emotional” in nature, but meant to preserve the deal by prompting others to honor their obligations.
"We will remain committed to the (nuclear deal) as long as the other parties are committed. We will act on the JCPOA 100 percent the day that the other party acts 100 percent (too)."
Iran has already urged the other parties – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – to save the deal.
Rouhani said Iran will also deliver on its threat to resume construction of a heavy water reactor after July 7 and will bring it to the condition that "according to you, is dangerous and can produce plutonium."
He added the measures can be reversed in "hours" if the other parties "live up to their commitments."
Trump warned Monday that Iran is "playing with fire" after Tehran said it had exceeded the limit set on its enriched uranium stockpile.
Rouhani said it was the US that started the fire and Washington has to "put it out" by returning to the nuclear deal.
“If the US is so afraid of the word ‘fire,’ it should not start a flame then,” Rouhani said, reminding, “This fire could only be doused by returning to commitments and United Nations Security Council resolutions.” The nuclear deal was ratified in the form of Security Council Resolution 2231 upon conclusion.
His adviser, Hesameddin Ashena, warned Trump against listening to hawks in his administration, hinting aggression against Iran could make him a "one-term president."
"We have unseated an American president in the past, we can do it again," he tweeted, referring to Jimmy Carter whose bid for a second term was marred in 1980 by the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran.
Russia voiced regret but said the move was a consequence of US pressure, which has pushed the deal toward collapse.
The diplomatic chiefs of Britain, France, Germany and the EU said they were "extremely concerned" and urged Iran to reverse its decision.
Europe has sought to save the nuclear deal by setting up a payment mechanism known as INSTEX which is meant to help Iran skirt the US sanctions.
Rouhani dismissed the mechanism as "hollow", saying it was useless to Iran because it failed to provide for financing of purchases of Iranian oil.
He took issue with the EU for calling on Iran to stay committed to the deal, saying the deal "is either good or bad. If it's good, everyone should stay committed to it," not just Iran.
He also referred to Trump’s hostile stance on the nuclear deal, which the US president has, on several occasions, called the “worst deal ever.”
If Washington considers the nuclear deal to be a bad one, what was the reason behind its unease at Iran’s suspending its commitments to it? Rouhani asked. Similarly, if the deal can be rated as a good pact and Iran is advised to remain a part of it, “why do the US and Europe [themselves] fail to observe it?” he also questioned.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had also joined the meeting, told reporters afterward that the Europeans have undertaken 11 commitments to the country under the nuclear deal.
These include Iran’s oil sales, which the US has been trying to block through the sanctions, secure financial returns from the sales and investment in Iran, as well as facilitation of transport, aviation, and shipping activities involving the country, he noted.
Zarif described INSTEX which Britain, France, and Germany announced in January to enable non-dollar trade with Iran — as just a prelude to implementation of the 11-fold commitments.
The nuclear deal obliges the European partners to prove their commitment to the nuclear deal in action, Zarif said, adding that the Islamic Republic would commit to the agreement in exactly the same way as those countries would.
“If Europe commits to the nuclear deal, we will do so, too,” he stated.
The top diplomat also commented on Trump’s “playing with fire” remarks.
“If he (Trump) feels entitled to issue such a reaction, he should first reverse [the US] violation of the nuclear deal and its withdrawal from it as well as the illegal sanctions that are tantamount to economic terrorism against 82 million Iranians,” Zarif said.
AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.