0935 GMT October 16, 2019
President: Iran’s nuclear responses gradual but exponential
President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday Britain would face “consequences” over the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker.
Iran has demanded the immediate release of the Grace 1, which British Royal Marines boarded off Gibraltar last week and seized on suspicion that it was breaking European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria.
Iran condemned the illegal seizure as “maritime piracy” and summoned the British ambassador on three occasions to convey its protest at the confiscation.
“You (Britain) are the initiator of insecurity and you will realize the consequences later,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting.
Rouhani called the action “very juvenile, heinous, and wrongful” and “to their [Britain’s] detriment,” noting that all international efforts should instead be focused on ensuring maritime security.
“Now you are so hopeless that, when one of your tankers wants to move in the region, you have to bring your frigates (to escort it) because you are scared. Then why do you commit such acts (seizure)? You should instead allow navigation to be safe,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani further said the British forces took the move “on someone else’s behalf,” referring to various accounts, including a statement by Spain’s Foreign Ministry, which have revealed that the UK carried out the confiscation at the United States’ behest.
He noted that the UK seized the vessel inside a territory, which itself has seized from Spain, adding that the people of Spain had deplored the move, too.
Iran nuclear reactions
Rouhani said Iran’s decision to increase uranium enrichment would produce fuel for power plants and serve other peaceful aims, and that it was within the framework of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
He was speaking a day after European powers accused Iran of “pursuing activities inconsistent with its commitments” under the nuclear deal and called for an urgent meeting of the parties to the agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“You (Europeans) do not need to worry about Iran, your concern must be over the United States, which has violated this whole commitment and undermined international obligations,” Rouhani said.
Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China and Iran are the remaining parties to the deal as the United States abandoned last year.
Iran initiated the countermeasures in May in reaction to the US withdrawal from the 2015 agreement. The responses were also meant to prompt the European parties to the deal to fulfill their side by offsetting the US bans.
The countermeasures have seen Tehran surpassing the 3.67-percent cap set by the deal on the level of its uranium enrichment, and the 130-ton ceiling placed on its heavy water reservoir.
Iran accepted the limits voluntarily as part of the deal, despite not being obligated by the UN nuclear watchdog to commit to any such restrictions.
“They do not provide any reason why Iran should not engage in enrichment. They just say it is bad or Iranians’ intention is bad,” Rouhani said.
He also raised questions about the claim that enrichment — which carries a multitude of peaceful medicinal and technological benefits — is “bad for Iran and good for others.”
The president also said Iran’s responses to others’ refusal to honor their nuclear commitments “will be gradual, but exponential.”
He, however, said the primary objective sought by the countermeasures is to invite others to preserve the agreement and respect international conventions, referring to the fact that the deal has been approved in the form of a UN Security Council resolution and has to be abided by accordingly.
Rouhani further referred to Israel’s “concerns” about the agreement.
He cited Tel Aviv’s own admission that it had pressured Washington into leaving the JCPOA.
“If an agreement should worry the regional Muslims’ worst enemy, namely the Zionists, it must be a powerful agreement.”
Reuters and Press TV contributed to this report.