Iran announced Sunday that it was set to increase enrichment purity to levels higher than 3.67 percent after the three major European countries (EU3) missed a 60-day deadline to fulfill its demands to protect bilateral trade from economic sanctions by the US, which left the deal in May 2018.
The French government said that it was not going to trigger the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution mechanism for now and would wait for a week instead for each side to come forward with their views on the issue, Presstv Reported.
"It's not an option at this moment," a source at President Emmanuel Macron's Elysee office said of the mechanism, which sets off a process that could lead to the re-imposition of United Nations sanctions should the other parties – the EU3, China and Russia – agree that Iran has violated the agreement.
The deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), put certain limits on Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program in exchange for removing all nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran.
Macron said Sunday that the Iranian announcement amounted to a "violation" of the agreement.
On Saturday, he told his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in a phone call that he would try to have all parties resume dialogue by July 15. However, he did not mention what could happen if his attempts failed. Macron didn’t say whether his efforts were coordinated with other European governments.
Ever since announcing the deadline in early May, Iran has cut back on some of its JCPOA commitments, making it clear that it would continue to do so until its demands are met.
To protect trade from US penalties, the EU3 have unveiled a non-dollar direct payment channel with Iran known as INSTEX. However, the mechanism has yet to become operational months after it was first introduced.
UK, Germany call for immediate reversal
Taking a more direct line on Sunday, the UK accused Iran of breaching the nuclear agreement and called for an immediate stop and reversal of activities that it claimed were in violation of the JCPOA.
"Iran has broken the terms of the JCPOA," a spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office said on Sunday.
"While the UK remains fully committed to the deal, Iran must immediately stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its obligations. We are coordinating with other JCPOA participants regarding the next steps under the terms of the deal, including a Joint Commission."
Germany chose a similar tone and said Iran should stay within the deal’s limits.
"We are extremely concerned at Iran's announcement that it has started uranium enrichment above the limit of 3.67 percent," a German foreign ministry spokesman said, adding, "We strongly urge Iran to stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its commitments."
The official said Berlin was working with Paris and London to decide the next steps.
Since leaving the deal, US President Donald Trump has launched a campaign of maximum pressure against Iran to force Tehran to renegotiate a new deal that also addresses its ballistic missile program and growing regional influence.
EU says “extremely concerned” about Iran's nuclear decision
Later in the day, the European Union said parties to the Iran nuclear deal are discussing a possible emergency meeting after Iran’s announcement that it will overstep the accord’s limit on uranium enrichment.
According to an AP report, EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said Sunday that the bloc is “extremely concerned” about Iran’s decision to ramp up enrichment beyond the 3.67 percent limit, adding that the bloc has warned Iran against such moves.
"We strongly urge Iran to stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its commitments ... We are in contact with the other JCPOA participants
regarding the next steps under the terms of the JCPOA, including a Joint Commission," she added.
Iran to continue reducing JCPOA commitments
Upon announcing Iran’s decision on Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi said Trump’s plan, which included economic and political pressure as well as military threats, had failed.
He said Tehran had a range of other options on agenda as next steps including redesign of Arak reactor, which the US had originally undertaken to carry out under the JCPOA.
Iran's deputy foreign minister said talks with Chinese and English officials to that effect were ongoing, adding that Iran had the will and technology to redesign the reactor on its own if the talks failed to produce favorable results.
Araqchi warned that Iran had planned out 60-day contingencies for every European failure to meet Iranian demands and could potentially ultimately scrap the deal altogether.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made it clear in a tweet on Sunday that Tehran would only reverse its decision once the Europeans honor their own commitments under the JCPOA.
“Today, Iran is taking its second round of remedial steps under Para 36 of the JCPOA. We reserve the right to continue to exercise legal remedies within JCPOA to protect our interests in the face of US #EconomicTerrorism. All such steps are reversible only through E3 compliance,” he asserted.